Feb. 13, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - With the start of the 2013 season just days away, the Villanova Women's Lacrosse team is set to hit the ground running under second year Head Coach Julie Young. The Wildcats have their sights set on an aggressive style of play entering the new year and with 26 letterwinners and eight starters returning from last season's squad, Young has the depth and experience to set the bar high.
"This year we want to have an open mindset. We've found that next level," says Young. "We want to play aggressive defense and go into every game with no preconceived notions about the team we're about to face. We're focused on taking our season game-by-game and improving each time we take the turf."
The Wildcats will have plenty of opportunity to play against the best in the nation and have a top-flight schedule that features contests against five teams ranked in the 2013 Preseason deBeer Media Poll. It will also mark the last time Villanova will square off against departing powerhouses No. 1 Syracuse and No. 7 Loyola in BIG EAST competition before they depart for the Atlantic Coast Conference and Patriot League, respectively. The `Cats also face No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 14 Georgetown and Young's alma mater Princeton in a tough non-conference battle that will provide ample prep for the BIG EAST Championship set to take place May 2nd and 4th in Washington, D.C.
Young states, "One of our biggest strengths this season is that we have a lot of girls who are capable of scoring. We want to get a lot of possessions which will be key for this offense going forward."
With the departure of Second Team All-BIG EAST selection Justine Donodeo, who became just the sixth player in Villanova history to score 100-plus goals, the Wildcats will need to replace 23% of their total point production and 25% of their goal scoring from last season. Up to the challenge is senior co-captain Maria Bowman (Ft. Belvoir, Va.), junior Ali Judge (Annapolis, Md.) and sophomore Jackie Froccaro (Sands Point, N.Y.) who are major threats going into 2013. Bowman was the second leading goal and point scorer from last season and posted 15 scores and 21 points to finish behind Donodeo, while Judge and Froccaro combined for 20 goals, one assist and 21 points. All three are capable of putting up major points and will be the foundation of the Villanova attack going forward.
Senior Shannon Lane (Annapolis, Md.) and sophomores Elise Bendinelli (West Chester, Pa.) and Jessica Mucci (Severna Park, Md.) will also give the Wildcats options, depth and reliability. The trio combined for 16 goals, nine assists and 14% of all points in 2012 and will be interchangeable on attack throughout the season.
Young also has potential in senior Annelise Mecca (North Caldwell, N.J.), juniors Katie Collopy (Glen Rock, N.J.) and Meredith Mangiarotti (Locust Valley, N.Y.) and sophomore Courtni Dadd (Ijamsville, Md.). Collopy gained valuable experience in 2012 making 10 appearances and delivering two goals while Mecca, Mangiarotti and Dadd became more comfortable and adjusted to the new offense under Young's direction in the ensuing year.
Freshmen Kendall Cietek (Schenectady, N.Y.), Courtney Cross (Great Falls, Va.), Kelsey Denihan (Manhasset, N.Y.), Alex Murphy (Fayetteville, N.Y.) and Caroline Rizzo (Hingham, Mass.) will also battle for playing time and have the opportunity to gain minutes. Cietek helped guide Guilderland to three-straight section championships and Cross was a first-team all-conference selection at Bishop O'Connell. Denihan earned all-county laurels at Friends Academy after leading the team in points and goals for three consecutive seasons. Murphy notched 117 career points and was honored as a first-team all league selection and Rizzo was a multi-sport standout and coach's award winner at Notre Dame Academy.
Senior co-captain Annie Fallon (Shewsbury, N.J.), who earned a starting role last season, will be relied upon to provide the Wildcats with leadership at the midfield line. Joined by sophomore Hannah Goforth (Chester Springs, Pa.) the two will be key players for the Wildcats in 2013. Fallon finished fourth on the team in scoring in 2012 with seven goals and seven assists and picked up 13 ground balls and four caused turnovers last season. Her 16 draw controls were good for third on the team while Goforth ratcheted off 13 goals during her freshman campaign. Combined, the duo accounted for 27 points, 27 ground balls, 33 draw controls and 10 caused turnovers.
Also looking to make big splashes are speedy freshmen Shannon Galvin (Maplewood, N.J.), Tierney Griff (Summit, N.J.) and Chelsey Henderson (West Long Branch, N.J.) who will see significant playing time. Galvin led Oak Knoll to a New Jersey State Championship while Griff, a lefty feeder, was named an all-conference selection at the Pingry School. Henderson comes off a highly successful high school career at Shore Regional where she totaled 133 career goals and 72 career assists en route to being named an Honorable Mention All-American.
Young also has plenty of potential and reliability in senior Arielle Urban (Hillsborough, N.J.) and junior Caroline Guidera (Washington, D.C.) who combined for eight goals, 10 points, six ground balls and two caused turnovers in 2012 and will provide the Wildcats with depth and experience. Freshmen Mackenzie Cietek (Schenectady, N.Y.) and Erica Sklar (Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y.) will also battle for time after being named section and all-conference honorees at Guilderland and Friends Academy, respectively.
"One of our biggest strengths is going to be our experience on defense," says Young. "We're going to be very aggressive and we have the leadership to have our defensive end be a solid foundation for us."
Led by a duo of senior co-captains in Shawna Giust (Basking Ridge, N.J.) and Sarah Moody (Burke, Va.), the Wildcats have all the necessary tools to be a great defensive team with a wealth of game day experience. Giust returns for her final season on the Main Line after serving as a three-year starter before falling to injury at the end of her junior campaign. For her career, the senior defender has started in 45 contests, posted six goals, two assists, 81 ground balls, 29 turnovers and 110 draw controls. Moody has also appeared in 45 games and is credited with 30 starts, 25 ground balls, nine caused turnovers and nine draw controls.
Juniors Amy Begay (Forest Hill, Md.), Ali Brandenburg (Edgewater, Md.) and Lauren Shockley (Newtown, Pa.) will also be significant contributors for the Wildcats. Begay returns as a veteran after starting in all 16 games as a sophomore and grabbing 14 ground balls and nine caused turnovers in 2012. Brandenburg will make the adjustment to defense after switching from midfield just a season ago where she notched seven goals and five assists for 12 points. Brandenburg also collected five ground balls and four cased turnovers last season and has the potential to be a top defensive threat in the BIG EAST. Shockley joins her classmates after making 15 appearances last season and collected three ground balls and one draw control.
Young also has reliability in junior Christine O'Reilly (St. James, N.Y.) and sophomores Kerry Anderson (Phoenix, Md.), Maggie Dobesh (Edina, Minn.) and Taylor Mangione (Phoenix, Md.) to step up and play significant minutes. Anderson and Mangione, both of Notre Dame Prep in Maryland, combined for one goal, 13 ground balls, five caused turnovers and nine draw controls last season and have the capabilities to be keen playmakers on the field. O'Reilly also made big strides during her sophomore season and collected 10 ground balls, five caused turnovers and 15 draw controls while Dobesh enters her second year with more confidence after adjusting to the collegiate game in 2012 and making two appearances versus Cincinnati and Manhattan.
Young and her staff also have potential in freshmen Maddie Considine (Hinsdale, Ill.), Maggie Lewis (Auburn, N.Y.), Olivia Schneider (Baltimore, Md.) and Nikki Sortisio (Arnold, Md.) who will look to transition to the college game after successful prep careers. Considine and Lewis were chosen as all-conference and all-league selections, respectively, while Schneider and Sortisio were multi-sport standouts during their high school careers.
Villanova's goalkeeping remains hotly contested going into the 2013 season, with seniors Dani Wiedmeier (Westlake, Ohio) and Amanda Hirschfeld (Timonium, Md.) having the most game-ready experience. After posting a 14.35 goals against average and making 82 saves in 2012, Wiedmeier returns after earning a 2-8 overall record and last season and playing over 615 minutes in net. Hirschfeld appeared in 11 games during her junior campaign and amassed a record of 1-4 in net, notching 260 minutes between the pipes and making 36 saves on the year.
Junior Julia Todd (Hingham, Mass.) also provides the Wildcats with plenty of depth at the goalkeeping position after appearing in one game last season. Additionally, Todd appeared in three games on defense for Villanova in 2012 and will battle for time alongside freshman Jaclyn Fraum (Pittsford, N.Y.) who comes to the Wildcats after a highly successful prep school career. Fraum was named an all-county selection at Pittsford Sutherland and helped guide the squad to a New York State Championship appearance. All four keepers showed promise in Fall Ball and will try to lock down the starting position during spring practices.