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College preview: @NovaWLax looks to make waves again in Big East

Thursday, 11th February 2016

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 2/11/16
From Press Release

The Villanova women’s lacrosse team will begin their 2016 season this Saturday, but it is last year’s success that is setting the standard for what head coach Julie Young (Germantown Academy grad) is expecting from her team this season.

Jackie Froccaro

Jackie Froccaro

“Last season we made the BIG EAST tournament for the first time in program history, so we set an expectation for the program,” stated Young.

She went on to add “While I am proud of the growth the program has made in the last few season, we are still hungry to win a Big East a Championship and compete in the national tournament.”

On the field, Villanova will be led by four captains: attackers Jackie Froccaro, Meghan Breen, midfielder Chelsey Henderson, and defender Tierney Griff.

Young added that it isn’t just the four captains who will be leading the team it will be all the seniors.

“We have 10 seniors in this class who are great leaders. They are a very driven group, whom have set a high standard for us to compete. It is exciting to see their motivation and what they bring to practice. They understand that we have to work harder, sweat more, and push each other every day if we want to do better than last season.” The Wildcats will open the season vs. Rutgers on Saturday, February 13th at Villanova Stadium. A game that last year did not go the way Young and her team would have hoped.

“Last season we had a slow start losing to Rutgers and Navy, which we wish we had come out on top. We look forward to playing both teams again at the start of the season.”

This year, the team has increased their strength of schedule in what Young hopes will help prepare them for conference play. This season the Wildcats will play three IWLCA Division I Pre-Season poll teams, #4 Duke, #7 Florida, and #20 Albany.

“This season we strengthen our non-conference schedule; we added #20 Albany and #4 Duke. We want to play some good non-conference teams to prepare us for our tough BIG EAST opponents”

Late March Villanova will begin BIG EAST play, starting with a trip to Storrs to take on UConn then returning home to take on Marquette. The Wildcats will then play back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and Georgetown, then two home games vs. #7 Florida and Temple. The final game of the season will be on the road vs. Vanderbilt on April 24th.

The Attackers

“This season we have a lot of experience and multiple offensive weapons.”

The Wildcats are retuning all but one starter from last season; the biggest returner is graduate student Jackie Froccaro (Sands Point, N.Y.).

Young added about Froccaro, “She sets the pace on our attack and will attract a lot of attention. We have multiple threats playing with Jackie this year and the attack is jelling very well. Everyone is more confident knowing how good of a player she is and how she sets everyone up for success.”

Froccaro was named the 2015 BIG EAST Attacker of the Year after finishing the season with 49 goals and averaging 2.88 goals a game. Last week Froccaro was named BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

“She has been working to improve her game and is excited to be back for another season,” shared Young.

Another standout attacker is senior Meghan Breen (Manhasset, N.Y.). Last season she was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team, and she finished second on the team in goals with 23. She scored three goals in Villanova’s win over then ranked Delaware, which was the team’s first win over a ranked opponent since joining the BIG EAST in 2010.

Senior Kelsey Denihan (Manhasset, N.Y.) played in every game last season for the Wildcats while starting 13 of those games. She finished with 20 goals and two assists. Twice during BIG EAST play last season Denihan finished with a hat trick.

Another solid senior attacker is Kendall Cietek (Schenectady, N.Y.) who has grown to be a stronger player, last season she played in every game finishing with three goals and one assists.

Juniors Catherine Bendinelli (Villa Maria Academy) and Carolyn Dottino-Buenahora (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) continue to add depth to the attack. Last year between the two, they scored 19 goals and saw action in 16 games.

Returning to the field after missing last season due to an injury is junior Becca Hetrick (Midlothian, Va.). During her freshman season as a midfielder, she finished with 13 goals and three assists. Also moving to attack this season is MJ White (Allendale, N.J.). White is leftie who brings a new dynamic to the attack line.

Another upperclassman that adds depth to this attack group is senior Courtney Cross (Great Falls, Va.), who last season scored her first collegiate goal vs. Cincinnati in 2015 and also recorded her first assist vs. Florida.

Adding to the depth at attack this season is sophomore Kaitlyn Rau (Stony Point, N.Y.), and freshmen Jillian Swikart (Rumson, N.J.), and Devon Brown (Basking Ridge, N.J.).

The Midfielders

“We have a healthy midfield this year with fresh faces. This group has great chemistry and will be dangerous.”

Three players are returning to the midfield this season after being sidelined last year due to injury. Senior Chelsey Henderson (West Long Branch, N.J.), who in 2014 was tied on the team with the most points, is back as the captain of the midfield. In 2014 she was named to the All-BIG EAST Second team, finishing with 19 goals and 15 assists.

Another returning face is sophomore Tara DeAngelo (Garden City, N.Y.) who was sidelined early during her freshman season, and Devin Hassinger (Owen J Roberts) who did not play last season due to an injury. Hassinger helps bring speed to the midfield, which will make her a scoring threat as the season goes on.

Sophomore Kathleen O’Connor (New Vernon, N.J.), played in every game during her freshman campaign, finishing with nine goals, one assist, 12 ground balls, and 20 draw controls.

Also making up the midfield this season are three freshmen, Christine Graziano (Mendham, N.J.), Carlye Maita (Mendham, N.J.), and Maggie O’Neill (Morristown, N.J.).

The Defense

“Our defensive unit brings a wealth of experience and versatility that will allow us to be creative with our playing style. With our depth on defense, we will be able to stay fresh during games and play at a high level.”

Senior Tierney Griff (Summit, N.J.), who is the defensive captain, has been playing really well this preseason. Last season was her first as a defender starting all 17 games and finishing with 16 groundballs and 14 caused turnovers.

Junior Mariah Salerno (Mendham, N.J.) has been a core part of the defense since her freshman year. Last season she started every game and recorded 16 ground balls, 15 draw controls, and 13 caused turnovers.

Juniors Sam Scrafogliero (Setauket, N.Y.) and Dana Bouwman (New Fairfield, Conn.) have been anchors for the team at the crease. Scarfogliero was named to the BIG EAST Preseason Team. Last season she led the team in groundballs with 24 and caused turnovers with 27. Bouwman appeared in 14 games for the Wildcats in 2015, where she finished with 15 ground balls and 9 caused turnovers.

Senior Mackenzie Cietek (Schenectady, N.Y.), who battled an injury last season, has worked hard to get herself healthy for this year. In 2014, she made an impact on the defense starting every game and finishing with 21 ground balls, and 13 caused turnovers.

Junior Cassidy Luidens (West Chester, Pa.) will be returning back to the defensive line this season after playing as a midfielder in 2015. She finished last season with two grounds balls and five caused turnovers.

Sophomore Elizabeth Armstrong (Chatham, N.J.) , who played in every game for the Wildcats last season, helps bring strength and depth to the defense. Last season she finished with 24 ground balls, 12 draw controls, and 16 caused turnovers.

Nikki Sortisio (Arnold, Md.), another senior, helps to bring depth and speed to the back line.

Two new faces have joined the backline, freshmen Julia Arrix (Darien, Conn.) and Laura Persinski (McLean, Va.). Both have been working really hard and will bring depth to the team.

The Goalkeepers

“All three goalies have a unique style of play. They have different strengths that will be key to versatility on defense.”

Senior Jaclyn Fraum (Pittsford, N.Y.) is bringing her years of experience and hard work to the net this season. Last season she started in goal every game, finishing with 104 saves and an 8-8 record.

Julia Michaels (Mount Sinai, N.Y.) has been working really hard and has shown growth in the preseason. During her freshman season she saw action in eight games, recording 29 saves and a win.

Freshman Olivia Gonsavles (Stony Brook, N.Y.) helps add depth and will continue to learn and develop as the season progresses.

The Freshmen

Young shared that this freshmen class of eight brings a lot to this team.

“The freshmen are a very talented class they have a lot of depth and they have a lot of experience. They are adjusting to the college game right now, but I expect a lot of them to contribute and made a huge impact right away. ”

“”They are very enthusiastic and have a love for the game that is very contagious. They are pushing everyone else on the team to be better,”, add Young.

The Villanova Wildcats will begin their 2016 season next Saturday, February 13th, vs. Rutgers. Game time is set for 1 pm at Villanova Stadium.



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