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Senior class leaves best season at Rutgers for last

<p>Senior defender Devon Freshknock is third in total points this season for Rutgers with 17, posting career-highs in both goals and assists.</p>

Senior defender Devon Freshknock is third in total points this season for Rutgers with 17, posting career-highs in both goals and assists.

Save the best for last.

The eight seniors on the Rutgers field hockey team have three regular season games left as well as postseason play, but they’ve already put up their most successful season on the Banks this year.

The team recently clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament for the second time in school history and has already matched the program-high for in-conference wins this season, with two in-house rivals still remaining on its schedule.

It is difficult to imagine a more diverse class of Scarlet Knights. Their origins are as widespread as British Columbia, Ontario, Australia and — of course — New Jersey. At least one senior is represented in each position group, including goalkeeper, and every field player has at least two points on the season.

Veterans on the forward line are Sarah Regn, Kimberly Jevic and Rachel Yaney. Holding strong at midfield is Elyse Broderick and senior Alyssa Bull. On the back end, there’s Devon Freshnock and Sophia Walia. In goal, Shevaun Hayes protects the net.

But for head coach Meredith Civico, this senior class has distinguished themselves far beyond their statistics and box scores.

“It’s a group we’re gonna really miss. You have Devon who’s the quiet leader. You have Walia who’s kind of the on-field leader. You have Alyssa who’s, to me, almost like a member of the coaching staff at times,” Civico said. “Sarah Regn is just a player who’s grown so much on the field during her four years here … And Rachel, she’s so creative and she’s so fun to coach. Kimmy’s just that leader off the field ... I think Shevaun has been a force for us all four years in goal … And Elyse is somebody that’s grown incredibly over her four years here as a player, she’s such a tough competitor.”

This year’s senior class combines for 72 goals, 63 assists and 207 points so far. Those numbers are likely to see a significant spike, as many of these veteran Knights are having breakout seasons to round out their careers.

Entering this season, Regn had three career goals. She now has five this year alone. Similarly, Freshnock previously had five career goals but now has six on the season. Jevic has tallied all four of her career goals solely in 2016.

In Bull’s third season as captain, she has climbed the ladder in Rutgers’ record books to seventh all-time in assists with Walia not far behind in eighth.

The culmination of skill and performance by the Knights’ veteran leaders paved the way for the team’s powerful success this season.

“It’s crazy to see how much we’ve improved — each and every one of us … We’re definitely very close and it shows on the field, how well we’re playing together. I think it’s the best field hockey we’ve played here, for me in my four years,” Broderick said. “I think it’s well-earned. I think we put in a lot of hard work. I think even coming into preseason, we knew how much we wanted it … Our mentality coming in was to just try to win it all.”

Rutgers field hockey will honor their elite eight during a Senior Day ceremony this Sunday before taking on Richmond at the Bauer Track and Field Hockey Complex.

Last year, the Knights failed to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament after going 0-8 in conference play. This year’s seniors have led their team to the biggest upset in program history this season and still have the chance to set a program record for conference wins.

With a spot in the postseason locked down, this group has the chance to continue to make history during the remainder of their time as Scarlet Knights.

“I think each one of us has something different to bring and I think that’s what makes us really special,” Freshnock said. “It’s really unique because I feel like the best that we have ever played is going to be this year.”

The swan song is one of the most memorable times in one's career. For Rutgers' senior class this year, it's looking like it will also be the best.

“It’s been incredible watching each one of them grow on the field and off the field,” Civico said. “I really see this group having all those pieces come together for them this season, which is really exciting and I know that they want to keep playing — they don’t want it to end.”

For updates on the Rutgers field hockey team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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