BY JEFF FALK
Jocelyn Novak would like to thank her parents, her teammates, her friends, her fans, the NCAA, and of course, the academy.
You see Novak rarely puts herself first, even though she is the holder of the most prestigious individual record in all of NCAA Division Three field hockey.
On October 22nd, the Flying Dutchmen’s Senior Day, Novak scored the 131st, 132nd, 133rd and 134th goal of her proficient and prolific career. Her second of the day tied Allie Weir of Lynchburg and her third set the new standard.
No one in the history of Division Three field hockey has ever scored more goals than Novak.
“To be honest, I attribute almost all of it to my teammates,” said Novak, humbly. “I wouldn’t have gotten even half of them without my teammates. It was a great time for me.
“It was definitely a result of hard work and dedication,” Novak added. “I’ve put in as many hours as I could, on the field and off the field. And I’ve had great communication with my teammates, throughout my entire career.”
“No, there is nothing like it,” said Lebanon Valley head coach Carol Miller, speaking to the magnitude of Novak’s accomplishment. “It’s huge. It’s paramount. What’s exciting is to see Jocelyn play. Down the road people are going to say that they saw her play.
“I would imagine that most of her goals were scored in the field of play, not particularly off corners,” Miller continued. “In corner situations, the numbers are up for the offense. That makes her record even more impressive.”
Needing three goals against Widener to break the record, Novak netted four. After scoring her first of the day three minutes in, Novak used just 40 seconds to tie and break the record.
The record-tying goal came at the 16:55 mark and resulted from a corner play. The record-setter originated from a scrum in front of the Pride cage.
“To be honest, it was my Senior Night and I was so excited I can’t really remember them,” said Novak. “The one was definitely a scrappy one in front of the goal. The other was a good shot and I tipped it in.
“You know what? I think it’ll be like a year or a couple more until it sinks in,” Novak continued. “Right now it’s like a high and I’m just having fun with it.”
To set such a prestigious mark, a player has to be extremely talented and have certain things go her way. Novak has played since she was a freshmen, Lebanon Valley has been involved in a number of postseason games during her career – thus enhancing her scoring opportunities – and she has remained very healthy.
“No, I don’t think the fact that we lost minimized what I accomplished,” said Novak of an upset loss to Alvernia in the Commonwealth Conference playoffs. “I was very upset we did lose, but I’m very proud of myself. When I came here I didn’t even know if I was going to play varsity, much less break records. I don’t like to boast about my accomplishments.
“My job is to do anythihg to help the team win,” continued Novak. “Whether it’s tackling, playing defense, making a good pass, or scoring a goal. For me, it just happened to be scoring goals.”
Novak possesses all the tangible attributes that great goal scorers have, things like speed, strength and hand-eye coordination. She also features all the intangibles, like determination, a nose for the ball and being at the right place at the right time.
“I don’t think I could’ve done it if I didn’t have a nose for the ball,” said Novak. “There have been a lot of goals like, ‘How did you do that?’. It just clicks for me.
“What’s worked for me has been my speed,” Novak continued. “A lot of our goals have been breakaways and speed is going to get you in the open. I’m strong, but I think what’s helped me score all those goals was my speed and hand-eye coordination.”
“The number one skill a forward needs is what’s going on in her head,” said Miller. “If you don’t have composure and confidence, you’re not going to be successful. She goes into every game thinking she’s going to score and not caring if she doesn’t.
“The other skill is being in the right place at the right time,” Miller added. “It’s uncanny. She knows where the ball is going to end up, three or four passes ahead. And she is extremely strong.”
Throughout her career, Novak has taken a pro-active approach to her health. She knows that, to a degree, the risk of injuries can be reduced.
“I always try to stretch before and after games,” said Novak, a pre-med/biology major. “And I always ice. But eating and sleeping correctly is probably the most important things. As long as you keep the inside of your body healthy, you’re not going to get as injured.’
“Jocelyn certainly has kept her injury rate down,” said Miller. “She keeps herself healthy. But it’s not like a Cal Ripken, if you step into the game you’re going to get the record. She never goes on the field without giving 100 percent all the time. And the hand-eye coordination is just phenomenal.”
Ironically, during her scholastic days at Pleasant Valley High School in Brodheadsville, Novak was more of a table setter than a goal scorer. When she matriculated to Annville, she had no way of knowing what her college career held for her.
“No, not all,” said Novak. “(If you would’ve told me I was going to become the all-time leading scorer) I probably would’ve just laughed and thought, ‘Are you serious? That’s crazy!’ I just put my heart into it and ran with it.”