After losing twice on the road last weekend, the Villanova field hockey team split two games this weekend, with a Senior Night overtime loss to No. 19 Old Dominion on Friday and a comeback victory over Drexel on Sunday.
In an interview earlier in the week, head coach Joanie Milhous made it clear the issues from their road losses at Temple and Fairfield would be addressed, but she remained optimistic.
“We’re gonna work on shots on goal all week,” Milhous said. “We have a ton of talent with our forwards and attacking so it shouldn’t be a problem but we need to work on it.”
The work put in during practice was displayed in Villanova’s first game against nationally ranked Old Dominion, as the ‘Cats took the Lady Monarchs to overtime in a 3-2 loss.
The Senior Night matchup got off to a slow start, as a valiant defensive effort by both sides meant that only three shots were taken in the first period, none finding the back of the net.
The Monarch offense found its way around the circle early in the second period, sneaking the ball past the defense and into the cage to take a 1-0 lead into half.
ODU continued its march and stretched its lead just three minutes into the second half, scoring a second to make it 2-0. A few shots and penalty corners by ‘Nova filled the remaining moments of the third period, but none found their way to the goal.
With the fourth period underway and a two score deficit, the Wildcat defense refocused and kept Villanova in the game. Before leaving an empty net, senior goaltender Jordan McGinley saved three consecutive shots from the Monarchs.
In the remaining minute of regulation, freshman Anne Drabbe dribbled around the circle and passed the ball over to sophomore forward Amanda Middleman. After making her way through the ODU defense, she found sophomore forward Meghan Mitchell, who finished past the goalie to cut the score to 2-1.
Coach Milhous described Mitchell before the game as a passionate player who is growing as a team leader.
“She is such a key player because she works hard [and] wants it so bad,” Milhous said. “She does the extra to get things done.”
Just seconds later, the Wildcats forced a turnover and created a penalty corner opportunity. Sophomore Jamie Pennington fired the corner to sophomore Sabine de Ruijter. De Ruijter’s shot was blocked by the Monarch goalie, signaling victory until the ball found its way to Mitchell’s stick. Mitchell sent the ball to the net with help of a redirect from junior Caitlin Van Goeverden, sending the match into overtime and exciting the Senior Night crowd.
Despite the spirited comeback by the ‘Cats, the excitement was short lived. The Old Dominion offense scored just a minute into the additional period, ending the game and dropping the ‘Cats to 1-2 in Big East play.
On Sunday, ‘Nova rebounded after three straight losses, defeating Drexel, 3-2, in its first road win of the season.
Two penalty corners by the Wildcats started off the match in Philadelphia. On the second, Pennington took a shot on goal that was blocked by the Dragons goalie, but de Ruijter gained possession off of the rebound and scored to give Villanova an early 1-0 lead.
A combined five penalty corners filled the remaining minutes of the first period before Drexel was able to get on the board to tie it at 1-1.
In the second period Drexel took two quick shots in the early moments, one saved by McGinley and the other shot just wide. A penalty was called on the Wildcats in the circle, leading to a penalty stroke that a Drexel attacker converted past McGinley to take a 2-1 lead.
‘Nova quickly got back to work and took advantage of a quick penalty corner. Drabbe sent the corner in to de Ruijter who took a shot on goal which was saved by the goalkeeper. However, Mitchell gained possession on the rebound and put it into the back of the net to tie the match again.
Only two minutes later, the ‘Cats found themselves with another penalty corner. Pennington sent the ball to Middleman, but Middleman’s shot was too wide. After a substitution, Mitchell shot the ball towards the cage before it was deflected in by Middleman, retaking the lead, 3-2.
The Villanova offense continued to test the Dragons defense, but both defenses held strong through the remainder of the third period. A scoreless fourth period gave ‘Nova their first victory in four games and their first on the road this season.
Later this week the Wildcats will continue Big East play, travelling to Lynchburg on Friday to face 12th ranked Liberty (8-2) at 3 p.m. Over Fall Break, the ‘Cats will host Big East foe UConn (5-7) at home on Oct. 15 and visit non-conference opponent Wagner (4-6) on Oct. 17.