On an unseasonably warm day in mid-October, the most noticeable thing in the Millersville field hockey team’s game Tuesday against Bloomsburg was not the heat.  It was the presence of Head Coach Shelly Behrens.

Directing traffic. Shouting orders.  Encouraging her team.  Not that it is anything new.  Behrens’ boisterous voice can be heard at any game.  However, it is her team that has started to turn the corner and bring Millersville towards competing in the tough Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East division.

“I am in the game, and to me that’s fun,” Behrens said.

Her passion and energy on the sideline is hard to miss, just hearing her talk about what goes on in her mind when Behrens gets into the game gives a sense of how devoted she is to the team.

“I’m working with every game.  I’m in every play with them.  I’m looking at what the midfield is doing.  What are we doing to counter?  How can we do this?  Where’s the advantage?  What can we do different?”

She wants her team to excel and they have gotten better as of late.  Earlier in the season, scoring goals was a major problem for the lady Marauders.  In their 5-2 win against Mercyhurst, they put up four, first-half goals.  After an opening goal by sophomore Jessica Cave in the fourth minute, Mercyhurst took the lead just two minutes later.  The lady Marauders responded nicely for three more goals in the half, two by junior Kristie Testa.

Behrens is proud of the team’s defense and goalkeeping.

The lady Marauders lost to Bloomsburg 5-0, but it was an improvement.  Last time the teams met, Millersville lost by eight goals.  Bloomsburg is currently the second-ranked team in the country, and while they were not happy about leaving with a loss, the lady Marauders competed.  The other time Bloomsburg was held to five or less goals this season was their only loss against Shippensburg.

Freshman Sara Dickinson, who had a career-high 18 saves against Bloomsburg, continues to impress her coach.  Behrens was also once a freshman goalkeeper on a national-championship team, so she knows what Dickinson is experiencing this season.  Behrens feels Dickinson is very mature for her age, has an outstanding presence, and is one of the best goalies she has seen in a long time from a pure athletic standpoint.

“She does her job and then some,” Behrens said.

Freshman Sara Dickinson spreads out to make a stop against Mercyhurst on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Conner.
Freshman Sara Dickinson spreads out to make a stop against Mercyhurst on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Conner.

The lady Marauders currently have an overall record of 5-9 this season, but have lost all seven of their games against teams in their division.

“I’ve never worked so hard for five wins,” Behrens said.

Despite this, Behrens is not discouraged.  The team is gong to keep fighting to get to the top.  Behrens expects a lot from them, but knows what they are capable of.  Behrens said they stick to their game plan and trust each other.  If they continue to do these things, there is no telling what they can do.

“I’m happy for our improvement,” Behrens said. “I think we’re going to get there, and when we do, look out.”