Field hockey faces Boston College in Big East championship

Anne Boyd

Powerful, intense, and determined are just a few words that describe the Villanova field hockey team players as they head into the Big East tournament Semifinals where they will face off against Boston College tonight at 7 p.m. on Coyne field in Syracuse, N.Y.

So far, the Wildcats hold a 4-1 record in conference play and an overall record of 10-8. Despite the fact that the No. 3 seed, Boston, has a better overall record, their Big East record of 3-2 falls short of the No.2 seeded Villanova. Also in the final four of the tourney are Connecticut, seeded first, and Syracuse, seeded fourth.

This year marks Villanova’s sixth appearance in the Big East tournament. In 1990 the team collected the big title by defeating Providence College, 2-1. In 1991 and 1992 the ’Cats returned to the semi-finals but were eliminated by Connecticut in the first round both years. Seven years later, head coach Joan Milhous lead the team back into the tournament where for the third consecutive time, they were locked out by UConn.

The girls already have an idea of how Boston plays the game. When the Wildcats and the Eagles met on Oct. 20, Villanova emerged victorious with a 1-0 shutout over Boston. In the game, Lugones had the single goal while senior goalie Meghan Helwig had nine saves. This will be Boston’s 10th trip to the Big East tournament. The Eagles won the title in 1994 and 1997. Last year third-seeded Villanova matched up against the second-seeded Boston for the 2001 Big East semi-final. Villanova came out ahead 3-2 after a dramatic and suspenseful double overtime. Moving on to the final game, the ’Cats went up against Syracuse. Despite the dominating play by ’Nova, especially in the first half, the intensity switched sides for the second half giving the Orangewomen a 1-0 win.

However, the girls are confident that this will be their year to shine. “Last year when we went to the tournament we played so well, I don’t thing that our team could have given it any more, or played any better than we did — we really gave it our all. Hopefully this year will be a repeat performance of last year, except we will win the championship,” said sophomore forward Simone Schunk.

As reflected in the team’s statistics, the girls are capable of capitalizing on scoring opportunities in today’s game. Leah Lisausky is second among the final four teams in goals scored this year, with 11. Teammate Christina Lugones has eight, is tied with a UConn player for the number four ranking.

On the other end of the field, Villanova’s powerful defense is led by seniors Sarah Burdette, Captain Kristen Strocen, sophomores Colleen Helms, Vanessa Pizzulli and Simone Schunk, and freshman Steph Grejtak. The defensive line will be backed up by standout goalie Meghan Hewig, currently only 10 saves away from having 600 career saves.

In addition to the team’s scoring and defensive abilities, the statistics also reflect the teamwork the girls use during the game. Lugones and Vanessa Pizzulli are ranked second among final four teams for assists during regular season play. Both girls have eight assists each.

The girls have displayed an obvious sense of team spirit and camaraderie from the beginning of the season, remaining standing and cheering enthusiastically during the entire game.

“I think the key element to winner the game is the team working as a whole unit,” junior Leah Lisausky remarks. “If the offense and the defense work together the entire game then I think we will have the upper hand.”