December 6, 2022
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Castagnola Seeks to Top Off Stellar Career with a National Title

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Castagnola Seeks to Top Off Stellar Career with a National Title


Profs’ top all-time scorer leads team into the NCAA Championship held this weekend at Rowan



Field Hockey


Courtesy of Rowan Athletics



GLASSBORO, NJ – A school-record 163 points, three conference championships and three appearances in the NCAA Semifinals are among the numbers that have defined Kristiina Castagnola’s Rowan field hockey career thus far. While those are already defining numbers for Rowan University’s field hockey program, her playing career potentially has two games left in the NCAA Championship.  Only time will tell what her final numbers will look like, but the story of Castagnola’s career cannot simply be told by just her statistics.
 
Castagnola’s field hockey career began way before coming to Rowan. She attended Eastern Regional High School, and for four years she was a part of one of the most dominant field hockey programs in the nation. During her time there, the team never lost a single game, going 105-0-1. Her winning mindset is something that she brought with her when she came to Rowan.
 
“It all starts with playing for the winningest field hockey coach in high school history [Danyle Heilig],” said Castagnola. “State championship-wise, Eastern Regional is still undefeated with 22 straight titles in a row. Success is earned, not given. Playing there taught me that, and I also learned that having the pressure to win is a privilege and is not something to fear. Having that mindset here at Rowan allows us to elevate our game, which has been evident through the record the seniors on this team have had since they’ve been here.”
 
Before playing at Rowan, though, Castagnola played field hockey for Penn State, her original college choice after high school. She spent one season there before transferring to Rowan in 2018. She claims that becoming a Prof was “the best thing she ever did.”
 
“I came to that decision [to transfer] because Rowan was much closer to home. I missed my family and I missed home,” Castagnola said. “I just wanted to be where I grew up and make an impact in the community. I think that making that decision was the best thing I ever did because I do not think I would have accomplished the things I have or met the people that are in my life now had I stayed [at Penn State]. There, I felt like just a number, but here, I feel like everybody knows and supports each other.”

“Rice,” a nickname that Castagnola adopted in high school, played her first game for Rowan on September 1, 2018. The rest is history from that moment onward. The Profs went from a 13-6 record in 2017 to a 22-1 record in 2018. Castagnola was a big part of the team’s improved record, as she contributed 30 points in her first season. Each year that followed, she increased her season point totals to 37 (2019), 44 (2021), and 45 (2022). The program is 76-10 in games that she has played, which includes a 21-1 record this season with the Profs ranked third in the nation.

As of right now, she has 163 total career points, a number makes her Rowan field hockey’s all-time leading scorer, a title that she claimed on October 29th in a 9-1 win over Ramapo. The previous scoring leader was Danielle Miranda, who held the title since 2007 with 148 points. Castagnola credits her teammates and supporters for being able to break Miranda’s record.

“I am just so grateful and thankful for this program. From the first team I have been a part of up until now, and all the coaches that have been behind me, I would not have been able to do it without them. This is just a result of their support.”

After four seasons with the Profs, the NCAA Semifinal and hopefully, a Championship game, are all that Castagnola has left to play in her career. However, she has high hopes of remaining a part of the Rowan community after she graduates with her master’s degree this year.

“In a perfect scenario, I would come back here [to Rowan] and coach,” said Castagnola. “I want to give back to this program as much as I can. I have done everything here that I can on the field and academically, but I want to achieve that last part of the game as a coach. I definitely want to stay at Rowan and find a way to be in athletics somehow, someway, and then go from there.”

While the future of Castagnola’s career after field hockey is unknown to her, there is no denying that her accomplishments have made her one of the most successful and decorated athletes in Rowan Athletics history. The accolades are numerous – two-time All-American, four-time All-Conference selection, Region Player of the Year, and Academic All-American, to name a few. The only thing that is left for her to accomplish on the field is to capture a national championship. She will have one last opportunity to do so, as the Profs play for the title this weekend in the NCAA Championships being held at Rowan.

“It would mean everything especially because we’ve been in this situation, this will be the third time and we haven’t been successful,” said the two-time All-American. “So I feel like just making it past this round (semifinals) and getting to Sunday and coming out victorious, it would mean everything. Especially because it’s the 20th anniversary of when the 2002 team won, I feel like it would be a lot of poetic justice for that to happen,”

The third-ranked Profs begin their NCAA title quest on Friday, November 18 at Coach Richard Wackar Stadium, when they take on #2 Middlebury at 3 p.m. #4 Johns Hopkins will face #8 Williams in the other semifinal beginning at noon. Friday’s winners advance to the NCAA Championship game on Sunday, November 20 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. Rowan students are free with ID. – CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL 

 



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