by Jacob Pickle
Saturday afternoon marked the only time this century that the Villanova and Davidson women’s lacrosse teams have faced-off, with the two playing each other for the first time since the 1999 season.
With the combination of dreary Northeast weather and spectacular play from a handful of Villanova players, Davidson supporters would likely have no problems with another such hiatus between the two teams.
Sophomore attack Jessica Mucci led the way with a career-high eight points on three goals and five assists as Villanova triumphed in a closely contested battle of the Wildcats, 11-7.
Fellow sophomore attack Jackie Froccaro also posted a hat-trick, helping the Wildcats improve to 4-3 and gather momentum as they conclude their out of conference schedule and begin Big East play next weekend.
Utilizing a well-balanced attack, and foreshadowing a contest in which seven Villanova players would tally points, Villanova jumped out to an early lead in the first half before letting Davidson back into the game right before half.
The Wildcats of the Main Line took a quick three goal lead on scores from Froccaro and freshmen midfielders Chelsey Henderson and Shannon Galvin before Davidson was able to get on the board with a tally from freshman midfielder Jean Atkinson around the twenty minute mark.
Davidson responded with two goals from junior attack Ann Fucigna, a talented finisher around the net who is only 17 goals away from the school’s all-time scoring record.
Two more scores from Froccaro sandwiching the goals would nullify Fucigna’s efforts however, opening Villanova’s lead to 5-3 heading into intermission.
Villanova head coach Julie Young commented after the game on the changes and improvements her Wildcats made at halftime. These adjustments would eventually power the team to a stellar showing in the second half.
“When we were patient on attack it opened up their defense and we were able to score,” said Young after the game. “We came out strong in the second half and started winning the draw control battle which allowed us to have more possessions.”
Villanova came out of the intermission with a dominant effort, stretching their lead back to three with another goal from Mucci off a feed from senior midfielder Annie Fallon.
Davidson was once again able to respond with a quick goal from sophomore midfielder Emily Rademacher before Villanova went on another run that essentially put the game out of reach.
With two goals from sophomore attack Elise Bendinelli and additional tallies from Mucci and senior attack Maria Bowman, Villanova pushed their advantage to 10-4 with only 15 left to play.
The Wildcats of the South did not go down without a fight however, and continued to show a tremendous amount of grit until the game’s final horn.
Goals from sophomore attack Emily Cookie and freshman midfielder Jean Atkinson narrowed Villanova’s lead to four and created a certain feeling of discomfort for the home fans filling out the Villanova Stadium.
Davidson continued to threaten throughout the remainder of the game, however were only able to convert on one additional goal from Fucigna.
Mucci’s final score of the afternoon provided some additional insurance, as Villanova picked up an important 11-7 win to build on heading into a difficult conference schedule.
A tremendous second half effort from the Villanova defense contributed to their ability to hold on to their leads and walk away with the win.
Senior goalkeeper Amanda Hirschfeld ended the day with eight saves to her tally, a handful of which came in one-on-one situations and important moments late in the contest against Davidson.
The Wildcat defense functioned extremely well as a unit, allowing only a handful of such genuine opportunities for Davidson as they put together a commendable performance for the entirety of the game.
Senior defender Shawna Giust in particular had a spectacular afternoon, recording four draw controls, two ground balls and three forced turnovers.
Coach Young commended her defense’s efforts in her post-game interview as well as her team’s ability to come through during key moments,.
This is a vital trait for a team being able to pick up difficult victories throughout the season.
“I think the conditions on the field were hard today and we played well enough to come out on top,” said Coach Young following the contest. “Our defense came up big at key points that allowed us to keep our lead throughout the game. There were times when we needed to score or come up with a caused turnover and the team did that at the right moments. It was an entire team effort.”
The match-up concluded Villanova’s out of conference schedule for the year as they gear up for Big East play.
The Wildcats have a few well-deserved days off. Then they will head to Marquette Friday and Notre Dame Saturday.
The games will take place 6 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.