BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Coming off of a victory against archrival Lafayette, the Mountain Hawks (5-5, 2-1 PL) will return to action in search of their second straight win as they head down the Main Line to face Villanova Tuesday night. The opening draw against the Wildcats (2-5, 0-1 Big East) is set for 6 p.m. at Villanova Stadium.
Lehigh has won three of its last four contests behind a balanced offensive attack, as seniors Lauren Murray and Leigh Ann Toricivia combined for seven goals and three assists against the Leopards, while freshman Carli Sukonik added two goals to continue her outstanding rookie campaign.
Sukonik continues to lead the Mountain Hawks with 23 goals, while Torcivia is first in scoring with 31 points, and second in goals with 19. In all, six Mountain Hawks have reached double-digit points on the season, and the offense is averaging 10.30 goals-per-game.
Lehigh holds a .671 winning percentage on draw controls for the season, led by Sukonik with 33 and Torcivia with 28.
Torcivia, the reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, also added three ground balls, four draw controls, and a caused turnover against the Leopards. For the season, Torcivia leads the team in ground balls (29) and assists (14) and is tied with her co-captain, Julie McBrien, for the team lead in caused turnovers (10).
Junior Mary Leah DiNisco made four second-half saves to preserve the Lehigh lead, and now has 34 saves on the season since replacing starting goaltender Alex Fitzpatrick, who was lost to injury.
The Wildcat offense is averaging 9.04 goals per game, led by senior Justine Donodeo with 24 points (19 goals, five assists) on the season, including a hat-trick in the team’s last contest against Manhattan. Maria Bowman is second for Villanova in scoring, with 12 points (eight goals, four assists) and has a team-high five caused turnovers for the season.
The victory over the Jaspers snapped a five-game losing streak, with Villanova’s only other victory coming in its season opener against Wagner.
Shawna Giust leads the team with 19 draw controls, and holds team-highs in ground balls (12) and caused turnovers (7) to lead the Wildcats from the midfield.
Junior Dani Wiedmeier has taken the lion’s share of minutes between the pipes, and enters with a 13.38 goals-against average while making 41 stops so far this season. Wiedmeier and fellow junior Amanda Hirschfield combined for seven saves and allowed just five goals in the win over Manhattan.
This will be the first matchup between the teams since 2008, when the Mountain Hawks won 16-5 in Bethlehem. Lehigh has taken the last six in a row against the Wildcats since being upended at home, 10-5, in 2002. Following Tuesday’s Contest, the Mountain Hawks will travel to the nation’s capital Saturday to take on Patriot League rival American at 1 p.m.
Story by Gordon Stevenson ‘12