New Temple field hockey coach excited to ‘change’ program

Susan Ciufo will inherit a program that went 21-55 in four seasons under its former coach.

Susan Ciufo is tasked with turning around Temple University’s field hockey program that hasn’t had a winning season in four years. 

Ciufo will replace former coach Marybeth Freeman, who resigned on Nov. 8 after posting a 21-55 record in four seasons. 

Deputy Director of Athletics Craig Angelos hopes that Ciufo will help the team win more games, beat Big East Conference powerhouse Connecticut, win a conference title and go to the NCAA Tournament.

Athletic director Patrick Kraft believes Ciufo — who led Division II Stonehill College to three NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons — can “restore a culture of winning” to the field hockey program, he wrote in a press release on Thursday. 

“[Ciufo] set herself apart with her passion for coaching, desire to succeed and her emphasis on developing the student-athlete as a whole,” Kraft wrote.

Ciufo is taking over a program that won two games last season and has not defeated a conference opponent since 2016. She is excited to change that, she told The Temple News on Friday.

“Most people are a little afraid of transition and change,” Ciufo added. “But I’ve gone through it. If it’s done properly, it can be really, really positive.”

Prior to her time at Stonehill, Ciufo served as an assistant coach for two seasons at Drexel, her alma mater. Ciufo played for the Dragons from 2007-10 and started every game in her career. She started her coaching career as an assistant and interim coach at Lehigh University during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Having two coaching stops in Eastern Pennsylvania gives her familiarity with Temple’s recruiting area, which made Ciufo stand out in the coaching search, Angelos said. 

Ciufo’s experience as a head coach was appealing to Angelos. During her past four seasons in Massachusetts at Stonehill, Ciufo amassed a 54-27 record. 

“A lot of people think they can do a good job [as a head coach], and maybe they can, but they’ve never had the opportunity yet,” Angelos said. “We liked that aspect that she’d actually been a head coach and actually went, won, and ran a great program.”

Ciufo told the team she wants to develop close-knit relationships with every player, senior forward Lucy Reed said. Ciufo wants to set small goals in hopes of helping Temple achieve its first winning season since 2014, Reed added.

“[Ciufo] came in with the perfect focus,” Reed said. “Seeing as our record is 2-16, she really knew that there’s a ton of room for improvement. Regardless of what happened with the coaching change, it was the accountability piece. And just these small goals, taking it game by game to just have a more improved season from this last season.”

Ciufo will determine her coaching staff by mid-February. Angelos hopes Ross Gilham-Jones, who served as the interim coach and interviewed for the head coach position, will remain on Ciufo’s staff to gain more college coaching experience. 

“We’re considering anybody for our positions and making sure we’re meeting with the staff that’s here right now, giving them that opportunity,” Ciufo said. “So I’m really open, and making sure I just have the right people around me is key.”

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