NEWARK, Del. – The journey to a second consecutive and fourth overall Colonial Athletic Association crown will not be an easy one as University of Delaware head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof announced a demanding, but balanced, 2014 schedule for his Blue Hens field hockey squad.

In total, Delaware will face four NCAA Tournament teams and five NFHCA ranked teams from the 2013 campaign. Additionally, UD will play eight regular season games at home this coming fall.

The Blue Hens get their feet wet on August 23 with an exhibition contest against Penn State at Rullo Stadium before heading west for a three-game set in the Golden State.

Delaware officially opens 2014 play with a busy Labor Day weekend schedule vs. NorPac Conference competitors in Stanford, Pacific, and Cal. The Hens face the Cardinal, who has won five straight NorPac West regular season titles, in the season lid-lifter on Aug. 29. The following afternoon, UD helps the Tigers open a brand new on-campus turf facility in Stockton. The weekend is rounded out on Sept. 1 as Delaware faces the Bears, also at Pacific’s new facility.

“I am excited for our team to open 2014 with a West Coast trip,” remarked Van de Kerkhof, the 2013 NFHCA Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year and CAA Co-Coach of the Year. “This trip will allow us to measure where we are as a team after preseason and also provides us with a postseason experience due to the travel demands and the three games we will play in four days.”

The Blue Hens will return to the East Coast the following week to play the next three of four games at Rullo Stadium by hosting Richmond (Sept. 5), perennial NCAA Final Four participant North Carolina (Sept. 7), and Cornell (Sept. 14).

Delaware will become road warriors once again for over a month as six of the next seven games will be played away from Newark with matchups at Villanova (Sept. 19), Old Dominion (Sept. 21), James Madison (Oct. 3), William & Mary (Oct. 5), Princeton (Oct. 10), and Towson (Oct. 12).  A matchup against Fairfield (Sept. 28) will be the lone contest at Rullo Stadium during the four-week span.

The game on Oct. 3 at James Madison will kick off CAA action while league play does not return to Rullo Stadium until Oct. 24 when UD hosts Northeastern for a rematch of the 2013 CAA Championship final. The Hens complete the weekend with a game against Hofstra on Oct. 26 before rounding out regular season action against Drexel on Nov. 2.

The Hens will also face non-conference opponents Columbia (home on Oct. 19) and Lafayette (away on Oct. 31).

“We have a good non-conference schedule that spreads across various regions, which will allow our team to further prepare as we have the desire to compete once again for the CAA Championship,” stated Van de Kerkhof, who will be in his fourth season at the helm of the Blue Hens. “As we continue to focus on one game at a time, each next game on our schedule will be used to enhance our performances on the field so we are in the best position for postseason competition.”

The 2014 CAA Championship will be held Nov. 7-9 with the top seed serving as host once again this season.