As November inches closer, so does the postseason and the hopes of another NCAA tournament run for Rowan field hockey.
After their loss in the 2021 NCAA Division III Final Four, the Profs have managed to bounce right back, currently riding a 16-1 record which has earned them the nation’s No. 3 ranking. Rowan’s success throughout the last two seasons has been in large part due to the dominance of their offense, led by sophomore forward Julia Patrone.
After racking up a team-high 21 goals for the season, Patrone has surpassed the 19 she led the Profs with last season during her freshman year.
“I had a feeling before she even came in that she had the potential to play a pivotal role,” Head Coach Michelle Andre said. “When she took the field and when she came in, especially when she found her groove as the season went on, I knew she was going to be a long-term help for us.”
To start her college career, Patrone recorded a hat trick in her first game, and since then has become one of Rowan’s go-to offensive weapons. On a team already stacked with talented players like captain Kristiina Castagnola, the addition of Patrone has only made this team even more dangerous.
“I mean in general, obviously when Julia [Patrone] got here it was just such an explosiveness of just goals and assists,” Castagnola said. “She’s such a helpful person to add to the squad. It’s helped me a lot because it doesn’t feel like I have to score all the goals. If I’m off one day, she’s on and vice versa.”
Patrone’s ability to make the players alongside her better is something that Coach Andre has seen from her throughout her time with the Profs so far, though this isn’t only one reason she believes Patrone is such a unique player.
“She sees the game in such a way and she helps elevate the players around her, I mean she’s raised the level of Kristiina [Castagnola], Bridget [Guinan],” Coach Andre said. “She can see lanes, she can beat defenders to make them miss, she recognizes when the play before it happens which is unique and now going into this year, she’s starting to re-defend and get her own ball back and create her own transition.”
The adjustments made by the Profs’ forward entering her sophomore campaign has taken her game to an even higher level. Along with exceeding her total goals for the 2021 season in five less games, she has also doubled her amount of assists, already recording ten.
“I think I’m more versatile on the field,” Patrone said. “Last year I was so comfortable in that one position, it was like when I went other places… I felt out of place. Now I feel like I can be put wherever and be to my highest potential on the field.”
With Rowan square in the mix for a national championship, the Profs need to have players who are game-changers. Patrone has proven that could be her, as she was the one who scored the goal to upset John Hopkins University, then ranked at No. 2, earlier this season.
“I mean, people are going to pay attention to her,” Coach Andre said. “She’s going to draw defenders and her ability to recognize that and pass and also recognize when to shoot and draw corners, she’s somebody you have to pay attention to and it sometimes draws eyes from other teams to her and it opens up for other players.”
Right now, the focus for Patrone and all of Rowan field hockey is to return to the NCAA Final Four. But no matter what happens at the end of the 2022 season, there is still a lot of time left for Patrone to make even more of an impact within this program.
“The sky’s the limit,” Castagnola said. “She’s already broken so many [records] and I’m just waiting for her to break any record left in the book for this school. She has so much potential, so much talent that there’s nothing that’s going to stop her.”
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