Sept. 4, 2012
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VILLANOVA, Pa. - After opening up the season with three games on the road, the Villanova Field Hockey team finally has a chance to play on their home-turf. The Wildcats (2-1) will face two opponents this week at Villanova Stadium: the home opener versus La Salle on Wednesday, September 5th at 7 p.m. and against St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday, September 7th at 7 p.m.
Villanova is coming off their first loss of the season after a 2-0 upset to Rider. Despite the defeat, Head Coach Joanie Milhous and her team are staying positive and out to prove what they can do on the field, "We are looking forward to the upcoming games this week. This team works very hard and had a frustrating loss at Rider but is ready to get back on track. This group, without a doubt, has the talent and desire to show how much of a threat they can be. We will take one game at a time and focus strictly on that opponent."
The Wildcats' defensive end has come up big defending the circle and stopping potential goals off penalty corners. The attack line has outscored their opponents 5-4, but have been outshot 43-47 compared to opponents and will need to execute plays off their own corner opportunities.
The team has been highlighted by their offensive and defensive efforts. Senior midfielder Olivia Maggitti leads the team with 2 goals. Jessica Swoboda has registered seven shots on goal and also tallied two assists. Her 19 shots lead the BIG EAST Junior goalie Alex Diekmann earned a place on the BIG EAST's Honor Roll for the second consecutive week. She leads the BIG EAST in saves (26) and has one shutout this season.
Scouting Report: La Salle (2-2)
Villanova will have a tough home-opener contest against city-rivals La Salle. The Explorers return nine starters and have been predicted to finish fifth in the A-10. Villanova's defense will need to be on their best game in order to ward off La Salle's skilled offensive line. Senior midfielder Becca Chylack ranks in the top-ten of La Salle's all-time list in goals and points. The three-time all-conference player has a powerful shot on penalty corners and has scored 21 goals in her career; this season she has tallied an assist. Also aiding Chylack on the front line are Neelam Kumar and Olivia Shoemaker. Kumar is a smart playmaker and has led the team in assists the last two seasons. She scored the game-winner in the 1-0 win over St. Francis last weekend. Shoemaker's aggression in the circle led her to score two goals for the Explorers in the 4-3 victory over Pacific.
In the backfield for La Salle, the Wildcats will need to rush the cage to get by the Explorers' defensive wall. Sophomore defender Olivia Leaman leads the team with 3 defensive saves this season. Backing up Leaman is 2011 A-10 Rookie team member goaltender Lisa Shaffer. Shaffer ranked fifth nationally in save percentage (.803) last season and notched a shut-out, the fourth of her career, against St. Francis in her last contest.
Coach Milhous and the Wildcats have already seen action against the Explorers this season in a mid-August exhibition game, but are anticipating regular-season play against the local-rivals as Milhous commented, "LaSalle has a very nice team; we scrimmaged them in pre-season so it will be great to compete with them again."
The meeting between the two institutions will be the 37th in history. Villanova owns the record of 30-5-1 when facing La Salle and hopes to add another win come Wednesday.
Scouting Report: St. Francis (Pa.) (3-1)
Villanova will play a second home game against St. Francis, the first meeting in history for the two squads. The Red Flash finished the season fourth in the NEC tournament and are predicted to finish third in 2012. This season, St. Francis has had one of its strongest starts in team history with back-to-back wins against Lock Haven and Longwood and a victory over Lehigh.
Leading the Red Flash are two powerful forwards: Carissa Makea and Autumn Pellman. Makea earned a 2011 All-NEC selection and scored two of SFU's goals in the win against Longwood. She also netted a goal in the 4-2 defeat over Lehigh this weekend. Pellman was St. Francis' leading scorer last season and has carried the title over to 2012, leading the team with three goals (tied with Makea). She had a hat-trick in the season-opener against Lock Haven, racking three goals in an impressive span of less than 20 minutes.
In the loss to La Salle, goalie Katelyn Vitali notched eight saves. She has registered 20 saves this season in the cage.