Hot Start Has Eagles Ranked 12th in the Nation
(Posted September 28, 2004)
Huntingdon, Pa. - The Juniata College field hockey team is ranked 12th in the most recent STX/NFHCA Division III National Field Hockey Poll which was released September 28 as voted by NFHCA member coaches. The ranking is the highest the Eagles have achieved in the 2004 season.
Juniata began the season ranked 19th in the poll released September 14. Juniata then climbed to 18th in the poll released September 21. The six-place jump from 18 to 12 in the most recent poll was the largest jump of any team currently ranked in the 20-team poll.
Juniata's jump in the poll actually comes after a week in which the Eagles suffered their first loss of 2004. Juniata dropped a 1-0 contest at top-ranked Messiah College this past week, while also earning its second conference win of the season with a 3-0 victory over Widener. Despite the loss, Juniata held undefeated Messiah to its lowest goal total of the season. The Falcons were averaging seven goals per game entering the match against Juniata, but the Eagles held them to just one goal on 13 shots. Juniata keeper Melonie Sappe' (Dallas/Shavertown) earned Commonwealth Conference goalkeeper/defender of the week honors for helping Juniata limit Messiah's offense.
Juniata began the season by winning its first five contests which matched the program record for consecutive victories. Both the 1988 and 1989 Juniata field hockey teams claimed five straight wins in a season. Juniata outscored opponents 13-3 through the first five matches, and have now posted 16 goals to its opponents four on the season. Freshmen Kim Wagner (Middletown/Middletown) and Michelle Campbell (Northern Lebanon/Annville) have added offensive punch to what figured to already be a potent Juniata offense. The duo have combined for 10 goals and two assists in their first seven collegiate games. They rank first and second respectively on the team in goals. Senior forwards Grace McCluskey (West Perry/Elliotsburg) and Billie Rickenbaugh (East Juniata/McAlisterville) who rank as two of the most prolific scorers in the program's history have already combined for 11 points in 2004. Meanwhile Sappe' has anchored the Juniata defensive unit with her 0.43 goals against average which ranks second in the conference.
Juniata will face one of its toughest regular-season tests on Saturday when the Eagles travel to Annville to take on conference foe Lebanon Valley. The Flying Dutchmen are ranked 16th in the September 28 Division III coaches poll.
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