’Nova field hockey looks ahead to bright future

Matt Fowler

On Saturday, the field hockey team (5-11) wrapped up its regular season with a 3-2 overtime loss to Temple (7-12). Although a 5-11 record is not synonymous with dominance, a few Wildcats believe dominance is in the team’s near future.

One of those Wildcats, Francesca Bello, was a force up front this season for the team as she registered 10 goals and five assists for a total of 25 points. She led the team in goals, points and opened up teammates for opportunities with her terrific passing ability. Bello is a huge reason the team won five games this year and is headed to its first Big East Tournament since 2011.

Bello was quick to credit her teammates for the success she has experienced this season. “I’ve never been on a closer team than the one this year,” Bello said. “These girls are all my best friends, and the chemistry we have together really changed the momentum of our season. Although we are losing a great group of seniors, we are still so close and excited about the seasons to come.”

Another Wildcat, senior captain Kayla Kenney, reiterated the belief that this team is very close and very committed to working hard. “It’s a great privilege to lead and play with this group of girls,” Kenney stated. “Not only are they my teammates, but my best friends. Each and every game we give 110 percent for each other. Field hockey is a game of mistakes, but it’s how you make up for them that counts. Not once did I see this team give up.”

As alluded to by Bello and Kenney, chemistry will be a huge factor in the team’s success next year. The team is only losing six seniors this year, meaning next year’s group will have no problems familiarizing themselves with each other. One of the six seniors, Kenney, believes this core group and some recruits can really make an impact in the Big East next year.

“This program is going to see great success in the very near future,” Kenney started. “There are some talented recruits coming in that will bring a lot to the table. Making the Big East Tournament this year has given the team great confidence that will carry over into the spring season. This team proved they can take the Big East by storm when they beat Providence and Old Dominion, and there is only more to come next season.”

Looking forward to next year, the Wildcats are headlined with some returning talent including Bello, juniors Courtney Devine and Kristen Mericle and freshman goalie Erika Miller. Devine netted four goals and tallied five assists for 13 points this past season, while Mericle added five goals and eight assists of her own for 18 points. Miller was a consistent contributor in the cage, sporting a respectable 2.34 goals against average while saving more than 70 percent of the shots she faced. These four, along with some highly touted recruits, will be key for Villanova’s success next season.

As for this season, the team earned the third seed in this year’s Big East Tournament and will be traveling to Norfolk, Va. for a rematch with the second-seeded Temple Owls on Friday, Nov. 6th at 4:30 p.m. Villanova looks to make the necessary adjustments to defeat Temple and move on to the championship to face the winner of UConn and DePaul.

The foundation has been set. The confidence, chemistry and momentum are all there for this team. Bello looks ready to lead this team to championship caliber levels. The the future is bright for this young group.