Feb. 17, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - With the start of the 2014 season around the corner, the Villanova women's lacrosse team enters with a new mindset this year. Beginning head coach Julie Young'sthird season at the helm, the Wildcats are past the building stage and are looking to make a name for themselves in the BIG EAST.
"I think we have big goals this year," said Young. "We want to be competing in the BIG EAST Tournament. Our goals are to win the BIG EAST, and we want to compete in postseason play and hopefully make it to the NCAA Tournament."
Young possesses a 10-22 record through her first two seasons at Villanova, and a 43-40 overall career record. She is joined by assistant coaches Xan Weitzel, in her fourth season, and Lauren Sparks, in her third season with the program.
Villanova women's lacrosse is coming off a 6-10 2013 campaign. The Wildcats posted a 3-4 home record and finished ninth in the BIG EAST. Villanova was chosen to finish sixth in the conference this season in the coaches' preseason poll.
The Wildcats welcomed 10 freshmen to the squad in addition to sophomore attack Meghan Breen, who transferred from UMass. The newcomers bring more speed to the squad, and Young will look to them to bolster the team's depth.
After playing with a young attack in 2013, the Wildcats return several starters and will look to make a bigger impact offensively.
"I think we're definitely more athletic and fast [from last season]," said Young. "We improved our speed with some of our freshmen coming in and we have depth returning from last year."
Junior Jessica Mucci is coming off a great sophomore campaign, in which she led Villanova in assists (39), a new program record, and points (53) last season while starting all 16 games. Sophomore Tierney Griffwill join Mucci behind the crease, and as a lefty, will provide a new dynamic to the attack.
Sophomore Kelsey Denihan and senior Ali Judge have impressed Young with their cutting and timing abilities and will look to be scoring threats. Newcomer sophomore Meghan Breen comes to Villanova after transferring from UMass. The Minutewomen were the Atlantic 10 champions last season and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Breen played in five games and tallied an assist in that time. Freshman Catherine Bendinelliwill join the crease attack, where she will be counted on to score. The West Chester, Pa., native has proven herself as a hard worker and challenger in practice.
The Wildcats will be without junior Jackie Froccaro, who led the team last season with 39 goals and was second in points (45). The All-BIG EAST Second Team honoree suffered an ACL injury in the offseason.
The Wildcat midfield has made great strides in the offseason. Sophomore Chelsey Henderson and junior Hannah Goforthare back with another year under their belts, and both will play big factors on the Wildcat offense. Henderson tallied 16 goals, 19 ground balls and 25 draw controls last season, while Goforth notched seven goals and eight ground balls.
Shannon Galvinis another sophomore who had a strong freshman campaign and will look to improve in 2014. Galvin recorded 12 goals and 10 ground balls last season and has proven herself as a dependable player.
Freshmen Mariah Salerno and Becca Hetrick have adjusted well to the college game and Young will rely on them to add speed and depth to the midfield. Dana Bouwman and Cassidy Luidensare fellow freshmen that could see some time in the middle.
Young will rely on an experienced defensive unit to support the attack. Seniors Amy Begay and Lauren Shockley will anchor the defense, while junior Taylor Mangioneis expected to make contributions.
"I think defensively, we're trying to be more aggressive this year," said Young. "We're trying to take more risks on the defensive end now that we have some more speed and the experience of playing some different defenses. We're really excited about our defensive game plan this season."
"They both play different styles," said Young. "Julia's has the leadership, but Jac is quick and brings a different dynamic. Right now we're looking to play them both in net."
Todd has appeared in 18 games with nine starts in her Villanova career. She has made 49 career saves and holds a 10.36 goals against average. Fraum has yet to play a game in her time as a Wildcat.
Villanova will see numerous challenges in 2014, facing five teams that participated in the 2013 NCAA Tournament and five teams that are ranked or received votes in the most recent IWLCA and Brine Media polls.
Villanova opens its season against Michigan, which is playing in its first game as a Division I program, on Saturday, Feb. 22 at noon. The Wildcats host No. 19/12 Navy on Feb. 26.
The first big road trip comes March 14-16, when the Wildcats take on High Point and Davidson in North Carolina.
Conference play begins at home against Rutgers on March 29. The Wildcats host Cincinnati and Louisville before travelling to No. 10/9 Georgetown on April 17.
Villanova closes out the season at Marquette on April 19 and at Connecticut on April 26.
The conference is in the midst of a shakeup as three programs left the BIG EAST after last season and Temple and Marquette were added as members. This is the last season Villanova will play Louisville and Rutgers as conference opponents.
The BIG EAST Championship begins May 1 in Washington, D.C., while the NCAA Championship begins May 9.