Meghan Mitchell and Sabine de Ruijter Selected to All-Big East Second Team


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Mitchell and de Ruijter represented the Wildcats in the Big East postseason awards.

Brooke Ackerman, Staff Writer

Every team has its stars, its go-to players, its standouts, the ones who make big plays and put up big stats. But for the two stars of the women’s field hockey, juniors Meghan Mitchell and Sabine de Ruijter, they don’t care as much about being the stars on the team as they care about the team itself. 

This past season, Mitchell led the team with 22 points, scoring nine goals, dishing out four assists and tallying two game winning goals. 

As for de Ruijter, she was a defensive force in the back, leading the team in most minutes played. But she too put up stats, getting involved in the attack with seven goals and five assists. 

Head coach Joanie Milhous reflected first on Mitchell, calling her a “role model” for the other players because of her work ethic. 

“She’s literally the hardest working player I’ve ever coached,” Milhous said. 

As for de Ruijter, Milhous was impressed with how far she had come this past season. 

“I saw tremendous growth in her play this year,” Milhous said. “Sabine is just a solid player for us, and she helps us out both offensively and defensively.” 

It wasn’t just Milhous who recognized the success of both the girls. It was also the Big East. For their efforts this past season, both Mitchell and de Ruijter were selected to the All Big East Second Team.  

But for the two stars, the accolade means nothing without their teammates. 

“Obviously it’s a very big honor to be recognized by the Big East, but this award is more so a reflection of the entire team’s effort,” Mitchell said. “A lot of that award is based on statistics and goals, stuff like that, but those goals come from the play developing in the backfield and everyone contributing to finishing.” 

de Ruijter agreed. “For me, all my goals came off a penalty corner or a stroke, and it’s important to remember who caused the corner, who caused the stroke. I could never do it individually, we should see this as an honor for the team and for our teammates.” 

While it was this humble mentality that helped foster the team culture this past season, the roles of these two players were critical for the team every time they stepped onto the field. 

“[The team] relied on her [Mitchell] to either get it done, or create something for someone else to get it done,” Milhous said. “She’s a go-to player for us.” 

As for de Ruijter in the back, Milhous described her as a “sponge.” 

“She really brought a whole new dimension to her game that was of such value to us in her defensive role,” Milhous said of de Ruijter.” “It’s a huge role, a lot of pressure, and I thought she did a great job with it.” 

With all eyes on the two juniors, and Milhous and their teammates looking to them to make magic happen, dealing with pressure is their second nature. And yet, ironically, they don’t see it as pressure at all. They see it as an opportunity for teamwork. 

“I love those exciting moments in overtime or in the fourth quarter when we need a goal,” Mitchell said. “But I would never call that pressure because I know there’s a bunch of teammates around me and we are all working together…it’s a collective effort of everyone.” 

On the defensive side of the game, de Ruijter doesn’t feel the pressure either to keep the ball out of their zone. 

“I’ve been playing with these girls since my freshman year, and we’re just such a well-oiled machine,” de Ruijter said. “I’ve never seen it as pressure, we just know how to work off each other.”  

With this team-first mentality, both of these rising seniors don’t necessarily have a desire to rack up their individual accolades. Instead, they have one team-oriented goal for next season: go to the Big East Tournament.

“As a senior, I wanna be a good leader, a good teammate, but I also want to give it everything,” Mitchell said. “I want to go to the Big East.”

But, both Mitchell and de Ruijter are aware that this goal can’t be accomplished without a good team dynamic. 

“What I really wanna do is try to be an example for the girls coming in,” de Ruijter added. “[Last season] everyone was so committed, and it was awesome to see from day one. So, for next season, that’s definitely something I want to do too.” 

As Mitchell and de Ruijter look toward their final season in the Wildcat uniform, they first have goals for the offseason. 

“The spring is all about figuring out what skills and technical aspects you need to work on because you have so much time to practice,” Mitchell said. “And then individually, I want to focus on finishing in the circle and just growing in 2v1 situations as a player to grow my tactical base.”

“I wanna work on the defensive end of the field,” de Ruijter added. “I want to fine tune my 1v1 defense and try to create peace when it’s chaotic in our circle in order to set things up quickly.” 

With these objectives in mind, Mitchell and de Rujter look to the off-season as a time of growth for themselves, both on and off the field. 

“Over everything, I just want to be a role model on and off the field,” de Ruijter said. “I remember my freshman year, I would go to the seniors if I had stuff going on outside field hockey, and I want freshmen, or any girl on the team, to feel like they can come to me.” 

“I feel the same way,” Mitchell agreed. “Off the field, I want to be someone that can show [the younger girls] the ropes a little bit in terms of Villanova. All I wanna do is be a good role model and teammate so we can set ourselves up for a successful season.”