‘Cats kick year off with a win

Kaitlin Santanna

A new era began in Villanovan women’s lacrosse on Sunday as head coach Jebb Chagan recorded his first win as a Villanova coach. The Villanova team overcame an early deficit to post a victory in its season opener against Howard University. The Wildcats defeated the Bison in Baltimore by a score of 13-8, despite three starters sitting out the game because of injuries. Sophomore Stevie McFadden led the ‘Cats, scoring a career-high five goals and three assists.

Howard broke out to an early lead, scoring the first four goals of the game. Nevertheless, Villanova never gave up hope and cut the Bison’s lead to 7-5 at the half. After a spirited effort in the second half, the ‘Cats took over the lead and went on to win the contest.

Chagan was previously the women’s goalie coach, allowing him to have watched several games from the sidelines last season. Despite his familiarity with the team, Chagan incorporated a new system for the ‘Cats this season. Since the fall, he has stressed the importance of the team rather than the individual. Chagan noted, “Individual achievements are nice, but the focus this year is strongly put on the team.”

He explained, “Some players may have a difficult time adjusting to a new system, especially those who are used to getting a lot of playing time. These girls have embraced that change. Although they are a mix of different classes, this team is such a tight-knit group of girls.”

Chagan’s system of teamwork has already shown signs of success on the field. The first game of the season was a total team effort with goals from nine different scorers. Christina Bahrs tied McFadden in assists with three, while sophomore midfielders Kathleen Kelly and Alex Garvey each registered a goal and combined to make five assists. Freshmen Shannon Sullivan and Taylor Lucy each scored their first collegiate goals in the game. Sullivan recorded two goals, while Lucy added one goal and one assist to Villanova’s total. Sophomore Tricia Magnuson and junior attacker Becky Gardner both posted one goal on the day. Jamie Schneider rounded out the scoring for the Wildcats with one goal and two assists.

While captains Gardner and Cindy Koza along with the seniors provide leadership, Chagan expects that the large number of underclassmen on the team will contribute greatly this season.

Backup goaltender Lauren Latchford was given the nod against Howard because of an injury to starting goalie Jessica Brozena. Latchford stopped fifteen shots en route to recording a win for the Wildcats.

“Jessica was kept out of the game as a precautionary measure and will be ready to play in Saturday’s game against Fairfield,” Chagan said. “Lauren and the defense did a fantastic job Sunday, especially in the second half where they allowed only one goal.”

Next up for the Wildcats is an away game against Fairfield on Saturday at 2 p.m. The home opener for Villanova is Wednesday, March 1 in the Stadium against La Salle at 6:30 p.m.