VILLANOVA, PA. 4/5/2012 – The Villanova Wildcats women’s lacrosse team was trying to break a two game losing streak, They had to do it against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers who came into the game winners of five of their last six games. Villanova did not want Rutgers to get off to a fast start, but the Scarlet Knights did scoring the first three goals of the game, all by midfielder Lauren Sbrilli, and went on to a 13 – 5 victory at Villanova Stadium. The beginning did not help the Villanova cause according to Coach Julie Young.
“It always hurts when you get down by a little bit, but we had a lot of opportunities that we created for ourselves,” said Young. “In the first half we tried to calm it down a bit. We had some shots, but we didn’t finish all of them. We did get a couple of quick goals that kept us in the game.”
Despite falling behind 3 – 0 Villanova mounted a charge ignited by Senior midfielder Justine Donodeo who scored two of the next three girls to being the Wildcats to within 4 – 2 with 13:48 to play in the first half. Rutgers scored the next four straight goals, then would go into halftime with a 10 – 4 advantage. Rutgers doubled up Villanova in shots on goal by a 14 – 7 margin.
The second half an a different pace. Villanova would have a time of possession edge. Their offensive execution gave them opportunities, but the ball did not go into the net. Lack of scoring has been a problem for the Wildcats this season and was apparent in this game. While the Wildcats outplayed the Scarlet Knights in the half, they had only one tally compared to three in the latter stanza.
“The good thing about the second half was that we controlled it a little bit more, so that was a positive, Young said. “That was something we tried to work on and was part of our game strategy, but we just couldn’t get them to fall. We kept working, and we had good opportunities. We hit a pipe in there and had an open net. We had opportunities which was a good thing, but we couldn’t convert. But we did have the ball most of that half.”
Villanova had an 11 – 5 edge in shots. However, the Rutgers goal keepers made key saves that prevented Villanova from making a serious run. Lily Katala and Aimee Chotikul made 9 saves in the game, 4 by Katala and 5 by Chotikul. Junior goal keeper Dani Wiedmeier had 3 saves for Villanova.
“They put their backup goalie in, and she made some good saves and got the flow back for them,” said Young.
Sbrilli scored 4 goals for the Scarlet Knights and midfielder Stephanie Anderson had 3. For Villanova leading scorer Donodeo had 3 goals to give her 26 for the season. Donodeo also leads the team in points with 31. Sophomore midfielder Ali Judge and Freshman attack Elise Bendinelli tallied one goal each. Freshman attack Jessica Mucci registered the only assist for the Wildcats. Donodeo filled the stat sheet with 6 shots, all on goal, and made 2 of 3 free position shots. The senior from Holbrook, NY has to score for her team and show the way for her younger teammates.
“When the heat is on she is the one that steps up for us,” Young said about Donodeo. “She usually is a good finisher, but we want everyone to be able to do that for us. She has been phenomenal for us this season.”
Villanova is 2 – 8 on the season, 0 – 2 in the Big East. The Wildcats travel to Notre Dame for their next contest on Saturday, April 7.
Written By: Glenn Papazian