NEWARK, Del. -- Third-year University of Delaware field hockey head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof has assembled yet another top-notch schedule this fall as he announced Wednesday a 2013 slate that will feature five teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, including defending national champion Princeton University.
Van de Kerkhof, who has led the Blue Hens to Colonial Athletic Association Tournament berths each of his first two seasons, welcomes back a talented squad that features the return of eight starters, including each of the top four scorers.
The Blue Hens will play 18 regular season games in 2013, including 12 non-league matchups and six games in league play. The six-team CAA Tournament will be held Nov. 7-10 at campus sites with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to the five NCAA Tournament teams - Princeton, Lafayette, Penn State, Drexel, and Northeastern - three other teams won at least 10 games a year ago, one was a league runner-up, and two others advanced to their conference tournament semifinals.
"Our 2013 game schedule is very competitive but also balanced," said van de Kerkhof. "This will allow us to be challenged and in the position to be best prepared going into CAA play. We want to be competitive and compete for Blue Hen pride and create a tradition of success. I am a strong believer that our program is in a realistic position to take the next step thanks to all the work put in and developments by the players, support staff, and coaches in recent years."
After two pre-season scrimmages at home vs. American (Aug. 24) and Columbia (Aug. 28), the Blue Hens will kick-off the season in Boston by taking on Ohio University Sept. 1 and host Boston University (12-6 record in 2012) on Sept. 2. Delaware will then return to Rullo Stadium for its home-opening Blue Hen Invitational Sept. 6-8. The Hens will host defending Patriot League champion Lafayette (17-3) on Sept. 6, Central Michigan will take on Lafayette on Sept. 7, and Delaware will play Central Michigan on Sept. 8.
Non-league games will continue Sept. 13 at home vs. 2012 Atlantic 10 semifinalist Temple and Sept. 15 at home vs. Michigan State as van de Kerkhof will face the Spartans team he used to coach for the first time. Delaware will head to defending Big 10 champion Penn State (18-4) on Sept. 20 followed by games at Patriot League semifinalist Bucknell Sept. 22 and at Northeast Conference runner-up Monmouth Sept. 29.
October will mark the start of CAA action as the Hens will host its first three league games of the season, taking on William & Mary (Oct. 4), James Madison (Oct. 6), and Towson (Oct. 11). That string of CAA games will be followed by Delaware hosting defending Ivy League and NCAA national champion Princeton (21-1) Oct. 13 and then heading to another Ivy League foe - Columbia - on Oct. 20.
Delaware will then close out the season Oct. 25 at Hofstra, Oct. 27 at Northeastern, Nov. 1 at defending CAA champion Drexel, and Nov. 3 at home vs. non-league foe Villanova.