Sept. 13, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova Field Hockey heads to Syracuse, N.Y. this weekend for back-to-back games beginning Friday, Sept. 14th at 4 PM versus BIG EAST matchup No. 2 Syracuse followed by a game Saturday, Sept. 15th at noon versus Kent State. The Wildcats are coming off two victories over La Salle and St. Francis and a tough loss to No. 1 ranked UNC last week.
Scouting Report: Villanova (4-2)
The Wildcats have had a pretty solid start this season. On the attack line, forwards Jessica Swoboda, Kayla Kenney and Leah High have made strong offensive impressions. Swoboda leads the team in shots on goal, registering 11 in the six games played this season; she has also tallied two assists and a goal. Kenney had a break-out week during week three, scoring two goals and tallying an assist against La Salle, scoring a goal against St. Francis and earning a spot on the BIG EAST's Honor Roll. She leads the team in goals (3), points (7) and is tied for second in the conference for game-winning goals (2). The Wildcats are 3-0 when High records a point. She has assisted two goals and scored twice so far this season. High also had both goals against Syracuse in the 2011 season.
Much of Villanova's success has come from the strong support and leadership in the backfield. The Wildcats' defensive end has come up big in blocking penalty corner opportunities and keeping the ball out of the circle. Midfielder Keira Zambon and back Kristen Davila have stepped up onto balls and pushed possession up field. Goalkeeper Alex Diekmann leads the BIG EAST with 37 saves and 6.17 saves per game. She was twice named to the BIG EAST's weekly Honor Roll. Villanova leads the conference in saves (39) and saves per game (6.50).
Scouting Report: Syracuse (5-0)
These two teams last saw each other in the BIG EAST Championships where Syracuse defeated Villanova 3-0 in the semi-final round and went on to win the conference title. And while the Wildcats are out to avenge their loss, the Orange will be a tough team to beat.
Ranked No. 2 in the country, the Orange have been red hot in 2012. They have gone 5-0 this season; including three wins over top 25 teams and most notably, defeating UNC 1-0 in OT. The Orange have outscored their opponents an impressive 20-3 and have outshot other teams 96-39. Syracuse is led by week one BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week Kelsey Millman who has three goals and three assists on the season. She added a score for the Orange in the 3-0 conference semi-final win over Villanova last season.
Defensively, Syracuse is a brick wall led by week two Defensive Player of the Week Iona Holloway. Holloway also added a goal against Villanova in the conference semi-final. Goalie Leann Stiver has made only 15 saves in the cage, proving how powerful Syracuse's midfield and defense are at shutting down offensive lines. Stiver also owns the most shutouts in the BIG EAST this season with three.
Syracuse leads the BIG EAST in nearly every statistical category, including shutouts (3), goals scored (20), assists (14), goals allowed (3), and goals allowed/game (.60).
However, don't count on the Wildcats handing Syracuse a victory this weekend. Head Coach Joanie Milhous and her team are anticipating this first BIG EAST game. "We are really looking forward to starting out BIG EAST Conference play. Syracuse is a very strong team and our girls are completely ready for the challenge. Our team shows a ton of heart and determination when it comes to conference opponents," Milhous said Thursday afternoon.
The Wildcats will have no room for mistakes as they look to snap Syracuse's 30 home-game winning streak at J.S. Coyne Stadium dating back to Sept. 2009 and add a win to their 7-20-0 all-time record against the Orange.
Scouting Report: Kent State (3-4)
Kent State finished second in the MAC conference in 2011, but this season, the Golden Flashes have come up short in a number of big games, including in losses to BU and Indiana.
The team has been carried by a dominant front line consisting of Shannon Martin, Rebecca Lee and Julia Hoffman who all have four goals this season. Martin scored the only two goals in the 5-2 loss to Indiana. Lee was riding a four-game scoring streak from Aug. 28th-Sept. 9th. Hoffmann has tallied a goal in four of the seven games she has played. Villanova's defense will have to play tough against these scoring machines
The Golden Flashes also have a strong goalie in Jahna Jordan to back them up. Jordan posted nine saves in a shutout against JMU and 11 saves against BU. The Wildcats will have to get off quick, smart shots to get past Jordan in the cage.
Villanova hopes to gain the edge in the 2-2 all-time record against Kent State.