Field hockey retains its core | The Triangle

Field hockey retains its core

Head field hockey coach Denise Zelenak has been busy this offseason since the Drexel University field hockey team won the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Zelenak coached the United States Senior Women’s National Indoor team to a RohrMax Cup win Jan 6.

The tournament was played in Vienna and featured national indoor teams from Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic. Team USA defeated Slavia Prag from the Czech Republic to win the international tournament. Zelenak also coached Team USA in Argentina where they defeated the Argentine team for the first time in program history. She will also coach the national indoor women’s team in the International Hockey Federation World Cup in 2015.

Even with a busy offseason, Zelenak still has her sights set on Drexel’s upcoming field hockey season.

“All opportunities to coach at the national and international level are learning experiences,” Zelenak said. “Each event and training gives me an opportunity to practice and evaluate my coaching skills, which eventually enhances the experience for my Drexel team.”

Looking ahead to the 2013 season, the Dragons will return every player except leading point getter and team captain Amanda Fleischut. Fleischut led Drexel to their first-ever conference championship and was named the Most Outstanding Performer in tournament play. Without Fleischut, the Dragons will look to their new upperclassmen for leadership.

“As the lone senior, Amanda was an amazing leader and a great captain, but even she will tell you there is never one person leading any team,” Zelenak said. “So as I look to the fall of 2013, all three seniors, Lindsay McArdle, Kristen Focht and Elise DiDonato, will be called on to step up and lead the squad. I look forward to seeing how well the team will mesh with these great players at the helm.”

McArdle led Drexel with 12 goals last season, but she is also known for her gritty play. During the championship game against Northeastern University, McArdle sacrificed her body multiple times to keep plays alive. That style of play makes her a prime choice for the new team captain.

Zelenak has also been busy on the recruitment front for this year’s team.

“Recruiting is actually moving faster and starting earlier, so we have been searching for the players for the fall of 2013 for a few years already, ,” Zelenak said. “We are always looking to the future and trying to identify great field hockey athletes who we feel will fit Drexel and our program. Any and all team accomplishments show these possible recruits where our program is and where it’s going.”

Even though she’s returning most of her players from last season, Zelenak still looks at this as a new team. Repeating a championship is undoubtedly difficult, but one has to think that the Dragons have a good chance with all of their returning players.

“It’s always a scary prospect when you try to predict the next season, especially when people expect you to repeat the last one,” Zelenak said. “As a coach, I know better than to try to do that to myself or my team. For the fall of 2013, we will have new leaders emerge and new players on the field, which equals a new team to us.”