Elaine Bachelder considers new Temple University field hockey coach Susan Ciufo her “mom at school.”
Bachelder, a junior defender, previously played for Ciufo for the past two years when Cuifo was coach at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts before coming to Temple in January.
She transferred from Stonehill to Temple and will get to play for Ciufo once again in the upcoming season.
Bachelder, an advertising major, said Ciufo made her transition to Temple much easier.
“She’s definitely one of my biggest role models,” Bachelder said. “When I first met her, we had an immediate connection. I think we have a perfect coach-and-player relationship. There’s a line of privacy, but we are also really close. We don’t just talk about field hockey. I can go to her about anything.”
Last season, Stonehill finished 13-7 and reached the Northeast-10 conference tournament semi-finals. The Skyhawks finished the season ranked No. 8 in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Division II poll.
Even though Stonehill plays at a high level in Division II, Bachelder believes playing at a Division I school will help her improve as an athlete.
“I think it’s definitely gonna be tough,” Bachelder said. “It doesn’t seem like it would be a big difference, but it really is. The style of play is so different. I think I’m just looking forward to actually getting better. I’m not scared about it or anything.”
Last season, Bachelder earned NFHCA Second Team All-American honors. In that same season, Stonehill only allowed 1.47 goals against average.
Bachelder started 39 out of 40 games and recorded four defensive saves and two assists during her two-year career at Stonehill.
She will be a crucial part of the Owls’ defensive unit, Ciufo said.
The Owls’ defense was outscored by its opponents by 51 goals last season.
“Even in spring alone, we’ve kind of closed that margin by a really big gap,” Ciufo said. “We’ve scored more goals in spring than we did all of fall. I think between our team putting in the work this spring and making that transition in terms of us scoring goals and then Elaine hopefully coming in and adding to our midfield and backfield in terms of keeping it out, I think she’ll add tremendous value there.”
The Owls finished last season 2-16, which prompted former coach Marybeth Freeman to resign in November.
The team is motivated to perform better after its two-win record, Bachelder said.
“I know that a big focus for everyone is improving culture wise,” Bachelder said. “Everyone is working really hard. It’s really clear that they want to make the difference … They all want the same thing now, rather than how it might’ve been before. That’s exactly what I want.”
Ciufo is looking forward to coaching Bachelder again this season and seeing her grow as a player in her first season in Division I play.
“I think she’s a phenomenal player,” Ciufo said. “She has so much more in her. We’re really excited to see her on the field.”
The team also announced the transfer of junior forward Natalie Burns. Burns played at Connecticut for the past two seasons and is eligible to play for the Owls starting in the 2020 season, per NCAA transfer student rules.
“[Burns is] just a fighter,” Ciufo said. “She’s somebody who brings a lot to the field in terms of her fitness and motor, so we’re just really excited. She’s a super sweet kid, but she’s a dog on the field.”