PHILADELPHIA – Ranked in the top five nationally in scoring offense with an average of 18 goals per game over its first three contests, the Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse squad (2-1) is set to face Villanova (2-1) on the road on Thursday, March 1. Opening draw control at Villanova Stadium in Villanova, Pa. is slated for 3:00 p.m. Both teams bring two-game winning streaks into the mid-week tilt.
Saint Joseph's currently leads NCAA Division I women's lacrosse in assists per game (10.33) and shares the national lead in shots per game (40.33) with Lehigh. The Hawks rank second nationally in points per game (28.33), rank third nationally in shots on goal per game (29.67), and rank fourth nationally in scoring offense (18.00 goals/game) and in draw controls per game (17.67).
Junior midfielder Rebecca Lane ranks fourth nationally in total assists (10), assists per game (3.33), and points per game (6.33) while junior attacker Francesca Donato's average of four scores per outting ranks her 12th nationally in goals per game.
Saint Joseph's enters Thursday's game after an 18-11 road win over Temple last Wednesday; Donato matched a program-record 11 points on seven goals and four assists and Lane added five goals and four assists to bolster SJU's offense while graduate student goalkeeper Liz O'Sullivan (nine saves), senior defender Kristen Kelbon (6 ground balls, 2 caused turnovers), and sophomore midfielder Bridget Cerciello (shut down Temple's top offensive player) anchored SJU's back line. The win was the program's first over Temple since 2009 and the first road win over Temple in program history and earned Donato (Player of the Week) and Cerciello (Co-Defensive Player of the Week) recognition from the Atlantic 10.
Lane leads the Hawks in scoring with a team-high 19 points on nine goals and a team-high 10 assists while Donato has hit the back of the net a team-high 12 times. Junior midfielder Hayley Sabol (9g) and freshman attacker Stephanie Kelly (6g, 3a) have added nine points apiece. Senior midfielder Kate Payne and sophomore midfielder Julia Pash own 15 draw controls apiece and have combined for 30 of SJU's 53 draw controls through three games. Kelbon leads the squad in ground balls (9) and matches the team-high in caused turnovers (4) while starting keeper O'Sullivan (2-1) owns a .422 save percentage with 27 saves through 167:31.
Villanova opened the season with a road loss to then-#13/17 Cornell, 13-7, before earning back-to-back road wins over Bucknell, 17-7, and, most recently, Holy Cross, 10-7, on Monday; Jillian Swikart scored four goals in Monday's win. Katie Comerford leads the Wildcats in points (12), goals (8) ad assists (4) while Swikart is next in line with nine points, six goals, and three helpers. Kim McDonough (14) and Devin Hassinger (10) have combined over half of Villanova's 40 draw controls while Elizabeth Armstrong anchors the defense with a team-high 11 ground balls and a team-high six caused turnovers. Starting goalkeeper Julia Michaels (2-1) owns a .367 save percentage with 11 saves through 112:01.
Wednesday's game will mark the 21st all-time meeting between Saint Joseph's and Villanova. Propelled by a 7-0 record from 2003-09, the Hawks sit even with the Wildcats, 10-10 all-time. With the exception of five seasons from 2010-14, the Hawks and Wildcats have played each other every year since the beginning of SJU's women's lacrosse program in 1993. Villanova has won the most recent three meetings, edging the Hawks by a final score of 11-10 in both of the last two games.
All-time series results are listed below:
2017 – L – 11-10 - Home
2016 - L - 11-10 - Away
2015 - L - 13-9 - Home
2009 - W - 18-4 - Away
2008 - W - 12-2 - Home
2007 - W - 13-7 - Away
2006 - W - 14-8 - Home
2005 - W - 10-9 - Away
2004 - W - 18-8 - Home
2003 - W - 8-6 - Away
2002 - L - 7-6 (2OT) - Home
2001 - L - 15-9 - Away
2000 - W - 16-6 - Home
1999 - W - 9-7 - Away
1998 - L - 10-2 - Home
1997 - L - 7-6 - Away
1996 - W - 4-3 - Home
1995 - L - 17-7 - Away
1994 - L - 20-8 - Home
1993 - L - 14-3 - Away
Be sure to follow the Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse program on Twitter and Instagram and like the Hawks on Facebook. Fans can receive all of the latest news and info on the women's lacrosse program with Hawk E-News.
Additionally, be sure to check out Sideline Photos, LLC's photos from SJU's win over CCSU on February 17, now for sale at PhotoShelter.com.