Van Heertrum and Stegen named to All-MAC Tournament team


Junior midfielder Veerle Van Heertum tries to stop a Longwood player from getting the ball in their game on Sept. 20, 2018. Van Heertum led the Mountaineers with 11 goals and 27 total points and was a first team All-Mid-American Conference selection last season.

Silas Albright, Reporter

After finishing the year with a 7-14 record and 1-5 in regular season Mid-American Conference play, the App State field hockey team didn’t have quite the season they would have liked. But two players stood out and helped lead the team to the MAC tournament semifinals after beating No. 7 seed Central Michigan 5-2 and No. 3 seed Longwood 2-0.

“Being able to get two out of three wins in our conference tournament was huge,” head coach Meghan Dawson said. “We dominated every single game that we were in.”

Sophomore midfielder Veerle Van Heertum and freshman midfielder Friederike Stegen finished first and second in both goals and total points while Stegen also finished first in assists for the Mountaineers in 2018.

“It might not have gone all the way as we wanted, but we had a lot of ups,” Dawson said. “We had a lot of really close games and I think for both of those guys being a sophomore and a freshman and experiencing those is only going to help our future.”

Van Heertum and Stegen were both named to the MAC All-Tournament team for their contributions to the Mountaineers’ run. Van Heertum finished the tournament with two goals and an assist while Stegen recorded five points and two goals in the win over Central Michigan.

App State started the year hot and won four of its first five games before falling in 12 of the next 13.

After the Mountaineers started losing, it took them a while to find their groove in the MAC tournament.

“In the beginning, we struggled as a team a bit,” Van Heertum said. “We lost three key players, our center back and two of our center mids who were really important, so we lost those because they were seniors, and we had to figure out how to do it without them.”

Stegen said the team showed improvement in different areas over the course of the season.

“I think that throughout the season, we improved our connections, the inside and out passes,” Stegen said. “I think our corners also improved a lot.”

Dawson said she was blown away by how much improvement the duo showed from the start of the year to the finish.

“It’s really amazing to see over a short three-month period how much they can improve,” Dawson said. “I think for them it was really just getting the connectivity down. They had never played with each other before and then there was a lot of people in new positions all over the field.”

Even though both players are midfielders, they are able to work well together and play unselfishly to help the team be successful.

“They’ve got different skill sets and different strengths, and so I think they realized how they could work together and make the best out of each other,” Dawson said. “One might be better at something and the other one picked them up and then put them in a position where they could really excel and be successful.”

Van Heertum was also named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association South Region Second Team for her standout sophomore season.

“I heard it from coach. I got a text from her and I didn’t know at all,” Van Heertum said. “She said, ‘You saw that you got named to that?’ and I was like, ‘No, I hadn’t seen that!’ I was really surprised.”

Because both Van Heertum and Stegen are underclassmen, they along with many other impact players will be back at App State next year. The six-player incoming recruiting class is also a very talented group that will contribute for the Mountaineers in 2019.

“We hope to step up our game, to get better and just do better each year,” Van Heertum said. “Just to improve as a group and help the incoming players to get up to our level.”

“I’m pumped to have them back next year,” Dawson said. “I think they’re both really good people first off, and I also think they are really good hockey players. When you have that combination, it’s really important.”


Story By: Silas Albright, Sports Reporter

Photo By: Megan McCulloh, Staff Photographer