Freshman Force Leads Wildcats to 3-2 Win over La Salle
The Wildcats (3-1) got their season back on track under the lights of their home turf at Villanova Stadium Wednesday night defeating city-rivals La Salle (2-3) 3-2 in a second half offensive show. Leading the offense and earning her first collegiate points was freshman forward Kayla Kenney who scored twice and tallied an assist.
Villanova controlled the ball in their offensive 50-yard line for most of the first half. Sophomore Leah High started the game off with two shots on the pads of Lisa Shaffer who blocked both attempts. Shaffer would go on to fend off five more shots on goal from the Wildcat attack line in the first period and ended the game with 11 saves in the cage.
La Salle managed to carry the ball into the Villanova defensive circle, but the Wildcats were a brick wall. Backs Kristen Davila and Moriah Allen continuously cleared the ball from the circle before a shot could even reach Alex Diekmann who had no saves on the game. The Wildcats outshot the Explorers an impressive 10-2 in the first half. Both teams struggled to gain penalty corner opportunities as Villanova had two and La Salle had only one in the first period.
The second half of play was a completely different field hockey game offensively. Villanova opened the period with a failed corner opportunity and a few wide shots. The Explorers took back the ball and rushed down to their offensive cage where they set up a corner play that would give them the first score of the game from Becca Chylack. Maddy Tettelbach and Neelam Kumar were credited with the assists.
Just two minutes later, Villanova got possession of the ball and Kayla Kenney fed a sweet pass across the cage to Leah High who would slap in a goal off the left post. The Wildcats continued to press hard on the Explorers' defense. Kristen Davila sent a hard shot into the circle off a corner play, but the shot was blocked. However, Kayla Kenney was there to rebound the ball and put it past Shaffer for her first-collegiate score, giving Villanova the 2-1 lead with 15 minutes left in the second half.
The Explorers weren't done fighting as they immediately took back offensive possession and Mariel Papa dribbled down the field and slammed a shot past Alex Diekmann to tie up the game at 2-2.
Villanova was determined to finish the game in regular time. With only six minutes left on the clock, the Wildcats would gain a penalty corner opportunity. While the corner shot went wide, Jessica Swoboda got the ball back in the circle and blasted a shot to Shaffer's pads, only to be blocked. Kayla Kenney also sent a ball towards the cage that Shaffer would stop. However, Kenney followed through on her shot, got the rebound and forced the ball into the back of the cage giving the Wildcats the 3-2 win when the final horn blew.
The Wildcats' attack line woke up in the second half outshooting the Explorers 14-2 and had a 6-1 advantage in penalty corner opportunities. Kenney would end the game with a team-high six shots on goal as well as a season team-high five points in a single game.
The `Cats are now 31-5-1 against the Explorers and look to build on their season record of 3-1 when they face St. Francis on Friday September, 7th at 7PM under the lights of Villanova Stadium.