Junior explores new position, captures early Big Ten honors for Rutgers
Venturing outside of one’s comfort zone can be the most daunting, rewarding task to take on.
Rutgers field hockey player Devon Freshnock is reaping the benefits of tackling such an obstacle as she has made significant contributions to her team’s undefeated record, set career-highs only two games into the season and earned immediate conference honors.
In the first weekly awards of the 2015 season, Freshnock was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
The Middletown, New Jersey, native is the first Knight to be honored with a weekly award as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The last time Rutgers had a member of the team to earn such an honor was back in the fall 2013 season as members of the Big East Conference, with goalkeeper Shevaun Hayes being named Defensive Player of the Week.
The early conference honor comes indisputably merited.
In the kickoff weekend of the season during which Rutgers hosted Bucknell, collecting a 3-1 victory, and Ball State, taking a 4-0 shutout win, both Freshnock and her team hit the ground running.
Tallying a total of two goals and an assist through the back-to-back games, Freshnock tied her career-highs in goals and assists, while also setting a new career-high with three points on the season.
The defender also had her first multi-point game of her career in the team’s shutout of BSU that included an assist on the game-winning goal.
Such early success can be seen as a reflection of the effort that Freshnock has put in.
She was no stranger to the field during the offseason. Participating in the 2015 Young Women’s National Championship with Team USA this summer, Freshnock was not only able to work with the top players and coaches in the country, but also gain experience in different areas on the field.
“It was really rewarding. … During the tournament, I played a lot of midfield and usually I play at defense, so I learned a different position almost and learned the responsibilities that come with it,” Freshnock told the Targum. “Getting a different perspective and being able to play a different position was really fun.”
Freshnock enters her junior season with a demanding summer under her belt wherein she was able to get her feet wet with an unfamiliar position and strengthen the underdeveloped aspects of her game.
Already possessing powerhouse defensive skills, the new familiarity with midfield has bolstered a sturdier mindset with regard to making offensive moves in games situations.
“I think I have a little more confidence. I think I took the tools that I have now and really applied it in my game,” Freshnock said. “I always had a defensive mentality, but now thinking more attacking-wise, and I think that definitely is translating in my game.”
Freshnock has wasted no time in applying the skills she’s gained over the summer onto the field this season. The carry-over into match play thus far rounds out the experience as being truly worthwhile.
Seeing one of her top players continuously grow and take advantage of her experiences, head coach Meredith Civico expressed great excitement about the results Freshnock has yielded so far.
“This was Devon’s second year playing in the U.S. Field Hockey Young Women’s National Championship and I think that just that experience and that exposure to the top hockey and the top players in the country is so valuable,” Civico said. “She’s worked so incredibly hard in the offseason to really develop her game and it’s so awesome to see it pay off on the field for her.”
Although her contributions to the Rutgers field hockey program have been substantial, Civico is certain that Freshnock will reach even greater heights during her career as a Knight.
So far this season, she’s off to the right start.
“Devon is a player who ... could really play anywhere. She’s just so strong, she’s so quick, she can move the ball over a distance unlike any player I’ve really seen in NCAA (field) hockey,” Civico said. “She’s done a really nice job creating opportunities for us out of the back field, so I’m really excited about how she’s playing. I’m excited about her potential and I definitely don’t think we’ve seen all that Devon offers yet.”
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