No. 15 ‘Cats defeat Rutgers, then fall to Penn

Paul Martucci

Following a week highlighted by a victory over Big East powerhouse UConn and the program’s first ever national ranking, the field hockey ‘Cats picked up where they left off with a convincing 5-2 victory over Big East opponent Rutgers but suffered a disappointing 3-2 loss to Philly opponent Penn.

Against Rutgers, junior scoring leader Megan Foster paved the way with two goals. Junior Sara Schmidt, sophomore Stephanie Campbell and senior co-captain Rory Rogers each scored a goal apiece to help Villanova cruise to victory.

In Wednesday’s loss to the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova opened up a 2-0 lead with a goal by Rogers followed by a goal by Foster, but the Wildcats were unable to hold the lead, falling 3-2 to the Quakers.

Foster, now with 13 goals after 10 games, ranks second in the country in both goals scored and goals per game average.

In addition, the defensive firepower of athletes such as junior Sara Schmidt have impacted the unprecedented success achieved by Villanova.

Schmidt was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, marking the first time since 2003 that the team has earned back-to-back player of the week honors since October 2003.

Villanova, at 8-2, had improved from 17th to 15th in the country, surpassing the University of Richmond and the University of Connecticut before Wednesday’s loss to Penn.

“It’s been another exciting week for us,” co-captain Natalie Balthrop said. “We love all the awards and attention, but we are still working really hard. We can’t settle.”

The field hockey squad cannot settle because, as witnessed against Penn, every game can prove to be a challenge. In addition, there are still many quality opponents remaining on the schedule, including a match at Duke, currently ranked fourth in the nation, and new Big East opponent Louisville, currently ranked 11th.

Furthermore, the Big East championship could easily create another showdown with Louisville, UConn, or both.

One concern with the overwhelming success of the team is that for many of the team’s athletes, this national reputation represents waters previously uncharted by Villanova field hockey. Balthrop, however, disagrees that this is a legitimate concern.

“We have been working hard for the past three years that I have been here to reach the point where we are now. We aren’t about to let that slip away,” she said. “We do not take our national ranking for granted. We know that each game we play is the most important game of our season.”

“We take each day, each practice and each game, one day at a time. If we keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them, I don’t worry about later in the season.”