URI field hockey team reaches national club tourney for second straight year

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One of only 16 squads chosen to compete for title

KINGSTON, R.I. – January 4, 2013 – Last year when the University of Rhode Island field hockey team earned a berth in the college club championship tournament, it was unprepared.

“Last year we did not expect to go, so we had to scramble to raise money to get to Virginia Beach,” said captain Claudia Colabella, a sophomore kinesiology major from Lindenhurst, N.Y.

“Two years in a row, we were ranked 13th (out of 88 teams at the end of the regular season), but we were definitely ready to make the trip this year,” said Julie Miezejeski, a senior kinesiology major from Ivoryton, Conn.

“We didn’t even think it was possible last year.”

After finishing 7-3 in the regular season this year and being one of only 16 teams chosen for the national tourney in October, the Rams are getting accustomed to winning.

That’s especially remarkable because three years ago the squad barely had practice space on campus and it has no coach. The captains coach the team.

They also serve as the club’s board members. Miezejeski is president, Hallie Anderson of Richmond, R.I., and a fourth-year pharmacy student, is vice president, Maggie DeStefano of Orange, Conn., and a supply chain management major, is the treasurer and fundraiser and Colabella is the practice planner and coordinator.

Anderson said there are multiple reasons for the team’s success. “It’s a common feeling among the team that we work together and that we are close,” she said. “Captains run the practices, but everyone contributes. Because we have players from so many different high schools, we get plenty of different ideas on training.”

DeStefano said more than half the team members won high school state or divisional titles or were selected for all state or all division honors.

Miezejeski said when she was a freshman, “We had a little corner of a field that we had to practice on, and we were lucky if we had eight people. But now we share a much bigger area with the intramural program. We held our first home game and home tournament on campus this year.”

“Now we can run more effective drills,” she said. “Making the playoffs two years in a row is a huge accomplishment.”

Anderson said there are benefits to having a coach for the team, but there are also benefits to having captains run the program, such as learning organizational skills and how to manage such things as playing time.

“Everyone’s willing to work hard and put the team first for the common good,” Colabella said.

The players agreed that their 1-0 regular season win over the University of Connecticut, despite numerous injuries, was one of the their top accomplishments.

“We didn’t even have a lot of players,” DeStefano said.

“I was out with a concussion from a previous game, Colabella said, adding, “I was the coach on the sideline.”

“I suffered a few injuries this year, including a vicious cut from a stick hitting my knee during the UConn game, which forced me to the sidelines,” Miezejeski said. “Two weeks later, I tore it open in a game on wet turf at the University of Vermont.”

“I had a stomach bug, and was vomiting during the game,” DeStefano said. “We were very evenly matched, but we don’t have an (artificial) turf field, and we beat them on turf.

“They really put a barrage on us in the last few minutes, but we held strong,” she added.

Other team members said DeStefano’s outstanding work in the goal was a key reason for the win.

When they arrived at the league tournament in Virginia Beach, the Rams were confident they could grab a few wins. They came close, but lost to Boston College in overtime and lost by only one goal to the University of Massachusetts and the University of Vermont.

“If I had to pick a favorite memory, it would be this entire season, because it was a great run” Miezejeski said. “It was really nice to see the new players join the team, reach their full potential, and see everyone finding their place to make a very strong, cohesive team.”

TOURNAMENT RAMS: Members of the University of Rhode Island field hockey team pose at the U.S. National Field Hockey Training Center in Virginia Beach during the national club tournament. Seated from left in the front row are captains Julie Miezejeski, Claudia Colabella, Maggie DeStefano, and Hallie Anderson; middle row from left, Alexa Shilko, Analicia Behnke ,Teresa Vinci, Sarah Baker, Mary Krieger, Chelsea Lacasse, and Kristyn Callahan, and back row from left, Skylar Weida, Danielle Harris, Rachael Lomp, Kelsey Norman, Kathryn Powell, Chelsea Duball, Molly Hodshon, Tia Guilbert and Jonathan Lloyd. Unavailable for photo Amanda Smigliani, Alyssa Carroll, and Maddie Espinal. Photo courtesy Hallie Anderson.