1997 Field Hockey Outlook
The 1997 Villanova field hockey team has only two seniors on the entire roster, but they finally have that certain strength that it takes to make a winner. One of the most important factors which defines this season's Wildcat team is mental strength and it is this element that often outweighs other factors such as physical talent and experience. With the leadership of the team's two seniors, the 1997 Wildcats and their young talent look to be ready to begin a new chapter in Villanova field hockey.
"We are a team that can't wait to work together to win," said head coach Joanie Milhous. "This team has a very good attitude and they are ready to win."
At the forward position, the Wildcats will have to look in new directions after the loss of their top two point scorers in Regional All-American Jill Basile and Lucy Durbin. Two of the keys to offensive success for the upcoming season are sophomore Mary Krauss who was named to the 1996 Big East All-Rookie Team and senior tri-captain Jacquie Fulginiti. Krauss is the team's leading returning point scorer after coming off an extraordinary freshman season where she totaled 17 points on five goals and seven assists. A defensive standout in the midfield, Fulginiti also showed off her offensive prowess in 1996 by scoring five goals and adding five assists for 15 points.
For an additional scoring punch at the forward position, Milhous will look to another senior tri-captain in Courtney Moyer and to a number of youngsters. Playing in 11 games last season and tallying one assist, Moyer will be looked upon to take a greater scoring role in 1996. The remaining offensive load at the forward position will have to be carried by sophomore's Katie Craig, Jen Manaresi, Carrie Calabrese and two promising newcomers in freshmen Nicole DiMaggio and Jamie Grey.
After standout Jacquie Fulginiti, the Wildcats only return two others from last season's roster to the midfield position. Playing in 15 games last season, Clare Turkington showed her knack for aggressive defense in only her first season on the Main Line as she, like Krauss, was named to the Big East's All-Rookie Team. Fellow sophomore Beth Graybill who played in only three games last season will also have to play a lead role for the Cats in 1997. With limited depth at the midfield position, it will be necessary for freshmen Carolyn Guarini and Heidi Ufer to step right in and contribute.
In the Wildcats' seven victories last season, the defense allowed just over two goals a game, but in their 13 losses that number jumped to four goals per contest. Junior tri-captain and defensive standout Karen Baldwin will try to bring consistency to the Villanova defense in 1997 as the team's sweeper. On defense is where the Cats return their most experience, and they will try to make it their strength in 1997. Junior's Sarah Gilhorn, Tara Tighe and sophomore Gina Rossi were each major contributors last season, and along with junior Colleen Gallagher and freshman Carolyn Gorrie will be looked upon to stifle opposing offenses.
A starter since she arrived at Villanova as a freshman, Sarah Wiggin returns as the 'Cats junior goalie in 1997. Starting all 20 games last season and playing in all but 11 minutes in goal, she totaled seven wins for the Wildcats including a 5-0 shutout of Drexel. Wiggin allowed only 67 goals last season for a 3.39 goals against average and saved 159 shots for a .704 save percentage. After two strong seasons in net, the Wildcats should expect nothing but the same for Wiggin in 1997. Incoming freshman Cara Walsh will backup Wiggin in goal this season.
"The girls played to the top of their ability and became mentally and physically tough (in a great spring tournament)," said Milhous. "I think if we can stay focused on our goals and display this confidence in ourselves and teammates, then we will be a threat to any team we play."
Like any team the Wildcats do have weaknesses, but what they don't have in some areas they make up for in others. It is not speed that will bring success to the Wildcats this season, nor is it size. The 1997 Villanova field hockey team will win because of their never say die attitude and because of the confidence displayed by the coaches and players alike.