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Newberry Observer featured Pace University in "Wolves recognized for 2019 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division II National Academic Team Award"

04/09/2020

Newberry Observer featured Pace University in "Wolves recognized for 2019 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division II National Academic Team Award"

Pace University led all institutions with the most National Academic Squad selections, placing 20 student-athletes on the list. 

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"The Journal News | LoHud.com" featured the women's lacrosse and field hockey Pace Setters in "Ahead of the Pace: Setters relishing in the quick rise of women's lacrosse, field hockey"

10/16/2019

"The Journal News | LoHud.com" featured the women's lacrosse and field hockey Pace Setters in "Ahead of the Pace: Setters relishing in the quick rise of women's lacrosse, field hockey"

Given the recent ascension to national-level recognition, it's hard to imagine that, five years ago, Pace University didn't play a single field hockey or women's lacrosse game.

In the spring of 2015, Pace was planning on fielding its first-ever women's lacrosse team. The field hockey program would have its inaugural season the following fall.

Pace's energetic athletic director, Mark Brown, is a self-proclaimed eternal optimist. He had high hopes for both programs when he brought them to the university. However, there wasn't enough positive thinking and foresight that could have predicted both programs being ranked nationally so soon.

As for women's lacrosse, it finished its third consecutive season ranked in the IWLCA Top 25 national polls.

"It's been tremendous to have both teams nationally-ranked in just four or five years; it's really hard to do," Brown said. "I give all the credit to the coaches, the student-athletes that work really hard, and our support staff. We've created the environment for them to be successful, it's really nice."

When Brown first arrived at Pleasantville in 2011, he performed a gender-equity review. After a 10-month long process, the results showed that although there was an equal amount of men's and women's athletic programs, the large size of Pace's football, men's lacrosse and baseball teams meant that there were a lot more positions provided for male student-athletes.

Brown wanted to bring a balance by creating new teams in field hockey and women's lacrosse, laying down the groundwork to get those programs running for 2015.

"We were really looking for opportunities we could create for young women," Brown said. "(Field hockey and women's lacrosse) are immensely popular, they're very competitive in the northeast, so we really felt like this was a missed opportunity for us as an institution if we didn't create these teams so that these young women studying in high school — and were lacrosse or field hockey players — can come here and play. I think it's far exceeded even my wildest expectations."

Their early success has also surpassed the expectations of both programs' head coaches, as well as some of the veteran players within the program. While it can be off-putting at first to go to a place where the teams had barely been established, the Setters have gotten players and coaches to embrace the challenge and build a culture.

"I actually liked the fact that it was so new because we are going to be the people to make a name for Pace," women's lacrosse sophomore and North Rockland native Aleya Corretjer said.

For her teammate, Northeast-10 All-Conference honoree Mary Kate Lonegan, a senior attacker and midfielder from Brewster, she admits it took a little time at first.

"Honestly, when it originally came up, my parents practically forced me in the car to visit because I said, 'I'm not going to Pace, they hardly have a team,' " Lonegan said. "It's so small, it's too close. When I came here, I immediately changed my mind. ... It's cool to create something and feel like I was a part of the start of the program, because I do feel like every year this team has surprised me and that it really has good potential to be top-five eventually. I think that'll be cool, when it does happen, to say that I was part of the start of it."

Pace's field hockey coach, Kayte Kinsley, says it's that universal feeling of wanting to prove they can compete and belong that drove these young programs in their earliest stages. Kinsley, a Putnam Valley native, was part of the Tigers' state championship team in 2005. She played soccer in college at Adelphi, before eventually finding her way back to field hockey as a head coach at Mercy College, where she built the program from scratch.

Those experiences helped her when coming in to grow a fledgling program that went 6-12 in its inaugural season.

"Definitely not," Kinsley said, when asked if she anticipated the rapid growth of the field hockey program. "I think that's one of the nice things when you initially start, you have a young group, having the time to be able to build them and know eventually that you're going to have that team after that first year, that you're going to have them for three years to work the kinks out."

"By that point, they understand each other's style of play, what they can do individually, and the system too, definitely helps. We weren't expecting the Final Four in four years, but some good student-athletes and kids that were dedicated to wanting to do well definitely helps."

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"NY Sports Scene" featured Pace Athletics in "Women Athletes A Driving Force Behind Pace University’s Revitalized Athletic Program"

04/03/2019

"NY Sports Scene" featured Pace Athletics in "Women Athletes A Driving Force Behind Pace University’s Revitalized Athletic Program"

Women Athletes A Driving Force Behind Pace University’s Revitalized Athletic Program

Pace women are leading the way in its newly revitalized athletics program. Women’s teams – particularly the field hockey team – has amassed a slew of awards. The team is only four years old and has attracted top athletes. This year, Pace University’s field hockey program made history, placing first in the Northeast Conference’s 2017 Team Excellence Awards and tallying the most wins in the country (18), winning the Northeast-10 Conference’s regular season championship (13-0 record), reaching as high as the #2 DII team in the country, and finishing the season #1 in the East Region before advancing all the way to the NCAA Division II National Semifinals.

Individually, the team’s players and coaches have garnered accolades. Pace Field Hockey’s all female staff was named the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s (NFHCA) East Region Coaching Staff of the Year with head coach Kayte Kinsley being selected as the NE10’s Coach of the Year; senior Paige Predmore (Harrisburg, PA/Susquehanna Township) was named a Longstreth/NFHCA Division II First Team All-American; seniors Jane Kasparian (Mahopac, NY/Mahopac) and all-time points leader Halley Rose (Dauphin, PA/Central Dauphin)were named Longstreth/NFHCA Division II Second-Team All-Americans; while Synapse Sports named Predmore and Rose First-Team All-Americans.Additionally, rookie phenom Grace Henderson (Kingswood, South Australia/Unley) was named to Synapse Sports’ All-Rookie Team after she finished second in the nation in goals-against average and led the country in total wins –stats that earned her the honor of NE10’s Rookie of the Year.Off the field of play, these young women finished the fall 2018 semester with a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.66 with four Setters earning perfect 4.0 GPAs.

The field hockey program’s success is in part due to progressive leadership and forward-thinking initiatives that have attracted Westchester standouts and top international prospects, as well as donors who recognize the University’s promise.

In February, Pace University Athletics received a $1 million gift from B.J. Finnerty, the wife of the late Peter X. Finnerty to support the program and honor the legacy of her late husband who was a coach and the father of the Pace Athletics program. A portion of the gift will be used to establish the Athletics Fund, which will provide for the ongoing care, maintenance and improvement of Peter X. Finnerty Field, which serves as the home for the Pace baseball and field hockey teams, as well as for other activities such as intramural sports for Pace students.

While the field hockey team is the most notable example, women involved in Pace athletics have proven to be a pivotal catalyst behind creating a vibrant atmosphere and complete college experience.

Over the course of the last school year, 12 of Pace University’s 14 varsity teams competed in the NE10 conference championship tournaments while two-thirds of all spring athletes had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.The women on Pace’s softball team earned their third NCAA Tournament bid in four years after the Setters won a share of the NE10 Southwest Division Championship for the second time in three years. At the same time, the Women’s Lacrosse team put together top marks in both wins (15) and NE10 wins (10) before hosting and winning their first-ever NE10 Championship Playoff Game in their fourth season as a program.

Community engagement is also a focal point for athletes on campus. The third annual Pride Hoops event this past December served to not only support the LGBTQ community but to help nearly 500 students interact with others outside their immediate social circles around both varsity basketball teams. Similarly, members of the Pace University’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) were the driving force behind inviting the Harris Project, the only non-profit in the nation committed to the prevention and treatment of co-occurring disorders (COD), to the Pleasantville campus last September to host the nation’s first co-occurring disorder awareness walk. In attendance were members of Pace’s Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Basketball, Soccer, Softball and Field Hockey teams.

Ultimately, Pace University champions student athletes who strive to showcase athletic achievement, academic excellence, and community support. Now more than ever, the rest of us can appreciate the examples set forth by the women leading this next generation of Setters and perhaps, someday, celebrate with the university community when one varsity program wins an elusive first national championship. Based on recent history, don’t be surprised if it’s the ladies of field hockey who reaches that goal soon – so regardless of what’s streaming each month, best have your popcorn ready.

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"Westchester County Business Journal" featured three Pace University senior field hockey players in Pace Field Hockey Players Recognized"

01/24/2019

"Westchester County Business Journal" featured three Pace University senior field hockey players in "Pace Field Hockey Players Recognized"

Three seniors on the Pace University field hockey team have been named Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II All-Americans. Longstreth is a sporting goods retailer.

One of the seniors, Jane Kasparian, is from Mahopac. The other two are Paige Predmore of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Halley Rose of Dauphin, Pennsylvania.

A total of 32 student-athletes were recognized by the NFHCA for the All-American teams. The selections are divided into first and second teams. West Chester University in Pennsylvania had the most award winners with five All0Americans. East Stroudsburg University, Merrimack College, Millersville University, Pace University, and Shippensburg University were tied for the second-most All-Americans, with three players each.

Kasparian plays midfield for the Pace team and started all 21 games during the season, logging 1,216 minutes of action in 2018.

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"The Sunday Dispatch" featured Pace University's senior field hockey midfielder Katrina Mikitish in "Next Level: Pittston Area grad Katrina Mikitish reaches national semifinals"

12/05/2018

"The Sunday Dispatch" featured Pace University's senior field hockey midfielder Katrina Mikitish in "Next Level: Pittston Area grad Katrina Mikitish reaches national semifinals"

Katrina Mikitish was a tireless contributor to the most successful field hockey season in Pace University history.

The senior midfielder from Pittston Area never came off the field in the final eight games of the season, including two National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Tournament games.

Pace went 19-3, reaching the national semifinals where it lost, 3-0, to East Stroudsburg University in Pittsburgh.

Mikitish had three goals and four assists while starting all 21 games for the Westchester County, N.Y.-based school. She earned third-team Northeast 10 Conference all-star honors.

Pace beat Saint Anselm, 6-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament with the help of a goal and assist by Mikitish.

The former Lady Patriots captain played 68 games in her college career, making 46 starts. She finished with nine goals and five assists.

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"The Journal News" featured Pace Setters Field Hockey in "Field hockey: Pace University, with former local HS stars, is ranked second in country"

11/12/2018

"The Journal News" featured Pace Setters Field Hockey in "Field hockey: Pace University, with former local HS stars, is ranked second in country"

Former Section 1 High School field hockey players talk about playing for nationally ranked Pace University.

One was told by her coaches that her new major was incompatible with playing on their Division I college team.

So, she transferred.

Another wasn’t looking at the school and wanted to also play lacrosse. Then, winter of her senior year in high school, she blew her knee out.

Her plans changed.

Lakeland’s Mia Lennon, an All-American in high school whose desire to become a nurse ended her field hockey career at UMass after just one season, and Mahopac’s Kim Schiera, who tore her ACL playing basketball, ultimately landed very close to home in Pleasantville, on the Pace field hockey team.

Neither could be happier.

Their team is just four years old. But thinking of it as a lesser program would be wrong.

Very wrong.

Lennon, Schiera and four other former local high school stars – Jane Kasparian of Mahopac, Carly Corbett of Brewster, Sarah Bard of Lakeland and Danielle Merante of Panas – are part of a 25-player squad ranked second in the country among Division II teams.

The 17-1 Setters host Massachusetts-based Assumption College Tuesday in the opening round of the Northeast 10 Conference Tournament.

Assumption handed the Setters their only loss of the season – a 3-1 setback on Sept. 15. Pace beat Assumption 4-1 on Oct. 9.

Rapid ascension

Players are hungry for a win and hungry, beyond that, for the conference title.

But no one is pretending they’re not letting their minds wander just a bit to the possibility of a national crown.

“They want it but we have a lot to go,” said three-year coach Kayte Kinsley. “Why we’ve been so successful is they really do take it one step at a time. Their priority is the next team we’re playing. In turn, they’re playing at the highest level.”

That wasn’t always the case.

Bard, a senior, was part of Lakeland’s amazing, 10-year winning streak against New York teams and nine-year state-championship run that ended Sunday in a one-goal loss in the state finals.

The only loss Bard weathered while wearing Lakeland green was in 2013 to Connecticut’s Darien High School.

She “learned how to lose” while a freshman Setter after deciding not to play for some D-III schools that were recruiting her and decided against trying to walk on to a D-I program.

“I knew there was the possibility we would lose a lot,” said Bard.

Indeed, Pace won just six games her freshman year.

But by last year, when she missed the bulk of the season after tearing her ACL, she knew “my senior year would be great.”

That has been true for her team and for Bard, who likes being so close to home her family can watch her games but also enjoys the full college experience of living on campus.

“Her defensive technique is above all others. She has a great ability to read the play,” Kinsley said of Bard, who’s part of a team that has scored 52 goals and yielded 15.

Bard has three of those Pace goals – all game-winners.

The sophomore defenseman Lennon, who has started every game and has five goals and six assists, receives one-on-one coaching after missing Tuesday practices for her nursing clinical.

That kind of accommodation was not available at UMass.

Smart, with a deceptive sweep, has shut down opponents’ best players, Kinsley said.

“It reminds me of Lakeland. The upperclassmen take over and are mother figures,” Lennon said, describing Pace’s team chemistry as “unreal.”

Kinsley jokes she tells Lakeland field hockey coach Sharon Sarsen, “I’ll take all of your kids. Keep them coming.”

“They’re already prepared,” she explained. “They’re ready for the level. Sars holds them to the highest level.”

Nabbing local talent and beyond

Pace dipped into Section 1’s deep talent pool from day one.

The accounting major Kasparian, an All-State player at Mahopac, was one of 12 Setter seniors who took a chance and joined the newly-launched team as freshmen.

The 5-foot, extremely quick midfielder — “She can beat literally any player. … She has been huge for us this year,” Kinsley said — said winning the NCAA championship would once have been an “insane goal.”

But the Setters’ 17-1 record doesn’t surprise her.

“We kind of expected this outcome, or at least hoped for it,” she said, pointing to the deep senior class and underclassmen who fit right in.  

The freshman Merante, an All-State player at Panas, comes in off the bench, has two goals and a “ton of potential,” Kinsley said.

For Merante, another nursing major, joining a winning culture has been an adjustment.

“I never imagined playing so long into the season,” she said, smiling.

Kinsley, who was named D-II NCAA field hockey coach of the year after last year’s 15-win season, is also a local product.

Before coming to Pace, she launched Mercy College’s program, coaching there for six years.

Before that, she played on Putnam Valley’s 2005 state-champion field hockey team, then played lacrosse for Long Island’s Adelphi University.

So, she’s well attuned to local talent, although Pace’s roster extends far beyond the local area.

Its leading scorer, senior Halley Rose, is from Pennsylvania, freshman Mia Radici is from California and the roster includes sophomore Lieke van Niuwenhuizen from the Netherlands and Australian Grace Henderson, a freshman.

Players aren’t drawn by the prospect of free schooling. Two-thirds of the team is on a partial scholarship, Kinsley said, but no one is on a full athletic ride.

Still, that doesn’t seem to be a turnoff.

“I couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” said the senior Corbett.

Corbett, the team’s most versatile player (a midfielder, she has also had stints on defense and forward) and, according to Kinsley, is one of her most consistent players, terms her teammates “sisters” and a “special group” that realizes it can “really do something special.”

“We come every day to play. We’re always the hardest working team on the field,” said Schiera, whose strong off-the-bench play has Kinsley penning her in as a starter next year.

Schiera, who's studying digital cinema and film-making, could play three more years for Pace, since she was red-shirted, missing the 2017 season.

“Definitely a lot of positives came out of me hurting my knee,” Schiera said, noting, if not for that, she’d be elsewhere, playing lacrosse in addition to field hockey.

Bard’s poised to graduate with a degree in finance. But national title or no national title, her dad, Michael, is campaigning, along with Kinsley, for her to go to Pace’s grad school and use the extra year of playing eligibility last year’s knee injury gave her.

She’s tempted.

“I love it here,” Bard said.

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