Rowan’s Kristiina Castagnola D-III Field Hockey Player of the Year

by Marc Narducci | Dec 29, 2022
Rowan’s Kristiina Castagnola D-III  Field Hockey Player of the Year
Kristiina Castagnola can be excused if she is still in a state of disbelief, even if she experienced nothing but dominance during her All-American field hockey career at Rowan University. Castagnola, a graduate of South Jersey powerhouse Eastern, was recently named the 2022 National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year.


“I am ecstatic,” she said in a phone interview. “I can’t believe it, this feels like so much of a dream.” Actually, the only surprise, is that she was surprised.


Looking at what she accomplished this season, this was an award that was truly expected. Castagnola recorded a career-best 52 points this season, 21 goals, and 10 assists. She had six game-winning goals for a program that was no stranger to accumulating W’s.


This past season Rowan went 21-2, made its second straight appearance in the NCAA Final Four and won back-to-back New Jersey Athletic Conference championships while being ranked among the nation’s top three teams all season.


In addition, Castagnola was chosen the NFHCA Region IV Player of the Year and the NJAC Midfielder of the Year for the second straight year. Castagnola has been an All-Region and All-NJAC selection all four seasons at Rowan, with three years on the All-Region First Team and four on the All-Conference First Team.


During Castagnola’s senior season at Eastern in 2015, the Vikings went 27-0 and won the Tournament of Champions with a 5-0 win over Oak Knoll. She was a four-year varsity performer at Eastern, where the Vikings won three TOC titles and four state championships.


 After that, she continued her field hockey career and education at Penn State. Castagnola would redshirt her first year at Penn State in 2016.


She didn’t play in 2017 and would transfer to Rowan, where she joined the team in the spring of 2018, which helped her get acclimated to her new teammates.


“I was finding my footing at a new school and being with the team in the spring of 2018 was really good but even then, it took a few games into the fall of 208 to get in a rhythm,” she said.
(The spring season is like a training ground for the fall).


Once she found her groove, Castagnola was unstoppable. She would increase her goal total each year. In her first season for Rowan in the fall of 2018, she had 13 goals and four assists as Rowan advanced to the NCAA semifinals.


In 2019 she totaled 14 goals and nine assists. There was no season in 2020 due to COVID. In 2021 she had 18 goals and eight assists. And then in 2022 she had her best season ever.


Castagnola earned her undergraduate degree in communications studies. She will earn a master’s degree in higher education this spring. Her goal is to get into coaching.


“I would love to be a collegiate coach,” she said. “I would love to give back to a sport that has given everything to me.” What made her career even more impressive is that Castagnola didn’t begin playing field hockey until the seventh grade.


“I got cut from my soccer team in middle school in seventh grade and I said, ‘let me try to pick up the ball and stick’ and it’s worked out well.” It sure has as reached the highest of levels during a standout career at Rowan University.

 

Photo credits: Nick Feldman


Author: Marc Narducci

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