Field hockey falls to defending national champions

Kristian Stefanides

Sophomore midfielder Anna Middendorf notched two goals against the Wildcats as the Villanova field hockey team (4-11, 1-3 Big East) fell, 4-0, at Villanova Stadium in a Big East conference matchup against the NCAA 2013 National Champions, No. 5 Connecticut, (12-3, 4-0 Big East).

Middendorf put the game-winner on the board for UConn just two minutes into the contest off of a penalty corner. 

Despite strong defensive pressure from junior forward Kayla Kenney as the ball was inserted, the Husky midfielder regained control of the ball and ripped a shot past freshman goalkeeper Jordyn Clipstone for her first tally of the game.

A few minutes later, senior midfielder Jessica Swoboda gave the Wildcats their first scoring opportunity of the game. 

The captain sent a pass from the goal line to senior forward Leah High who was in front of the cage. 

High took control of a bouncing ball and sent a shot that went just over the cage from a few yards out. 

In the 24th minute, UConn jumped to a 2-0 lead after junior midfielder Roisin Upton capitalized on a penalty corner to close out the first half.

Villanova opened up the second frame by producing offensive opportunities while UConn looked to control possession with its two-goal edge. 

The Huskies forced eight penalty corners, but the Wildcats’ defensive unit withstood the nationally ranked squad to keep Villanova in the game. 

But with less than 15 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Middendorf tallied her second goal of the game after she took a shot from the middle of the circle provided by senior forward Chloe Hunnable.

The visitors tallied their final goal of the game when Upton hit freshman forward Charlotte Veitner with a long pass on a breakaway with just eight minutes left in the game. 

Clipstone faced 24 shots, 12 of which were on goal. 

The Zimbabwe native made a total of eight saves, bringing her season total to 101.

Despite the loss, Villanova battled throughout the entire game, holding the defending national champions from capitalizing on many of their offensive opportunities. 

According to junior midfielder Ann Romanowski, the Wildcats stepped up to the plate and found that facing an elite opponent like UConn helped Villanova prove what they can do on the field. 

“Playing the number five team in the country is a positive in itself,” Romanowski said. “We learn a lot from elite programs like UConn, mostly bringing forth strengths in our program. We competed and recognized the level of play we are capable of. Quick starts, two-touch passing and giving ourselves opportunities to score were the most critical aspects of the game. Our defense played strong, and we held them to only two goals at half. Overall, we need to gain a little more offensive momentum, but the game was hard fought and the score doesn’t represent the level of play that night.”

This past Tuesday night, the Wildcats played host to Big 5 rival UPenn. Despite a valiant performance, the ’Cats fell by a score of 2-1. 

In what was a hard-fought game throughout, the Quakers took a 1-0 just about a half-hour into the contest with a goal by freshman attacker Alexa Hoover. 

Unwilling to go down without a fight, the Wildcats knotted the score at 1 with an unasssisted goal by sophomore midfielder Kristen Mericle. Just about nine minutes later, the Quakers found the game-winning goal, taking the lead on a deflected goal by junior attacker Elizabeth Hitti. 

Wildcat freshman goalkeeper Jordyn Clipstone played all 70 minutes of the contest and made nine saves to keep the ’Cats within striking distance. 

This upcmoming Saturday will mark Villanova’s final conference game of the season, a home contest against the Providence Friars. The Wildcats finish their regular season the next day against Quinnipiac.