As Villanova students left campus for fall break, the field hockey team remained hard at work in order to play three games, two against top-ranked teams in the country.
In game one, the team added another Big East win to the books after freshman Emily Donaldson scored the only goal against Syracuse, ending the week on top before facing two top-ranked teams in the coming week.
“Syracuse, like any of the Big East games, is tough competition,” Stephanie Campbell said. “We knew we were going to have to work hard to earn a win, and after a tight game like that, we know we have to work even harder in the upcoming games.”
No. 16 Villanova faced No. 5 Duke next at a neutral site at Drexel University. The Wildcats were first on the board when Donaldson was able to score off a feed from senior Megan Foster. The Blue Devils were deprived of many offensive chances from the Villanova defense, and Foster scored goal number two off a pass from senior Lauren Campanelli.
“We brought our game the first half; both offense and defense came out strong, and we were able to put two on the board,” Campbell said.
“We played really well in the first half,” Jennifer Nelson said. “Everyone was stepping up and getting to the ball first.”
Duke quickly answered and scored their first goal, ending the half 2-1. Duke proved a strong showing in the second half after tying the game at 40:33. A penalty allowed the Blue Devils to take the lead, and the scoring did not stop for Duke. Four more goals were added to Duke’s score as they out-shot Villanova 27-9, placing a loss in the books for Villanova, whose record stood at 11-4.
“In the second half, Duke picked up their passing game and started taking shots from the top of the circle,” Campbell said. “It put a lot of pressure on us.”
“I don’t think that the score of the game by any means reflects the actual game,” Nelson said.
Villanova faced No. 12 Louisville last. Undefeated in the Big East and playing their first conference game on the road this season, the Wildcats would tally their first loss in Big East play.
The Wildcats again were able to place themselves on the board early, as Campbell scored the first goal of the game off a penalty corner. However, the Cardinals were able to answer Campbell’s goal, tying the game 1-1 and pulling ahead to go into the second half, 2-1.
“We play a lot like Louisville,” Campbell said. “We have similar game sense and match up really well. In the first few minutes, they worked their way into our defensive end and forced two corners, putting a lot of pressure on our backfield. But we were able to come right back and force penalty corners on them and that’s when we scored.”
Foster tied the game only 1:26 into the second half, tying the school record of goals in a season at 22. The Wildcats were unable to hold on as the Cardinals scored three more goals, ending the game in a 5-2 loss for the Wildcats.
Although the Wildcats were sent home with two losses on their record, Louisville, Providence and Villanova are tied for first place in the Conference. As Villanova still has to play Providence and Georgetown, the chances for a first place finish still remain possible.
“We look forward to the rest of the season,” Campbellsaid. “We play St. Joe’s on Wednesday, and it’s always a really tough game. We qualified for the Big East Tournament, so we’re excited. And as long as we continue to win our remaining games, we have a good shot at qualifying for NCAAs. We are really hyped.”