2014 ODU Field Hockey Season Preview
NORFOLK, Va. – Coming off its first season in the BIG EAST, it is safe to say Old Dominion has established itself as a top team in the conference. With eight starters and all of the top five leading point scorers returning, the Lady Monarchs are ready to once again challenge for the conference’s crown.
In their inaugural season in the BIG EAST, the Lady Monarchs went 6-1 during the regular season, only losing to 19th-ranked Louisville, 3-2, in overtime. ODU made it to the conference tournament final, but fell to Connecticut 1-0, who was ranked seventh in the country at the time and eventually hoisted the National Championship trophy in November. Overall, Old Dominion went 13-8 on the year, with all eight of its losses coming to opponents ranked 19th or higher. The team also made it to the NCAA Tournament for the 31st time in program history, where it fell to Wake Forest, 3-2, in the first round.
The Lady Monarchs’ 2014 team will feature a balanced 23-woman roster comprised of five seniors, five juniors, five sophomores and eight freshmen.
ODU returns three all-conference players, including the 2013 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, Rosario Villagra. Villagra finished the season with a team-leading 41 points on 14 goals and 13 assists. Her point total also ranked third in the conference. She was not only the conference player of the year, but a First Team All-BIG EAST selection and an NFHCA All-South Region Team member. For the 2014 season, Villagra was picked to repeat as the conference’s Player of the Year and was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-BIG EAST squad.
Sarah Breen also returns for the Lady Monarchs’ offense, after finishing second on the team in points with 27 (12g, 3a). She earned a Second Team All-BIG EAST nod and was a member of the NFHCA All-South Region Second Team a season ago. Emily Harting and Katy Fuhrman are also key returners to the ODU offense. The duo combined for 25 points last season off of seven assists and nine goals.
On the defensive end, the Lady Monarchs have big shoes to fill after losing the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Christy Lonacre, but they return senior Kelsey Smither and redshirt junior Caitlin Walsh.
As a midfielder last season, Smither led all Lady Monarchs with 14 assists and finished third on the team in points. At the end of the season she earned Second Team All-America, All-BIG EAST First Team and NFHCA All-South Region honors. For the 2014 season, Smither was a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-BIG EAST team.
Walsh started in 19 of 21 games played last season. She highlighted the year with a goal against nationally ranked North Carolina and Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament. She helped lead the team to eight shutouts and a 1.36 GAA, which ranked second in the conference and 14th nationally.
Between the pipes, the Lady Monarchs return one experienced netminder. Redshirt junior Megan Hept started in all 21 games last season and finished with a 1.75 GAA and 88 saves. During the season, she was named a BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week and earned NFHCA All-South Region team accolades.
The mix of rookies includes a plethora of talent with five players earning all-district accolades in high school.
Danielle Grega hails from Kingston, Pa. where she was a four-year standout for the Wyoming Valley West program. As a forward, she registered 50 goals and 27 assists during her career. Anna Kimidy, from right here in Norfolk, earned four varsity letters and tallied 102 goals and 78 assists playing a forward for the Maury High School squad. She earned all-district honors all four years and was an all-region selection as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Jennifer Klein is welcomed from local Virginia Beach, where she attended Kellam High School. As a midfielder, she was named to the conference’s first team as well as to the all-region squad. Carrie Sensenig hails from Pennsylvania, where she was a midfield expert for Cocalico High School. Over her career, she recorded 32 goals and 15 assists.
Kristen Vick, from Suffolk, Va., will be playing midfield for the Lady Monarchs this season. In high school, she was an all-conference player every single year, including player of the year as a junior. Hailing from Mechanicsburg, Pa., Kelly Weaver is the only incoming goalkeeper on the Lady Monarchs roster. She earned three varsity letters at Cumberland Valley High School where she tallied 130 saves and was named to the Mid-Penn All-Star team during her time on the field.
The Lady Monarchs also welcome two newcomers from across the Atlantic Ocean this season. Willemijn van Schie comes to ODU from Oegstgeest, Netherlands where she was a regional champion at Bonaventuracollege. Victoria Rezette, hailing from Wezembeek-Oppem, Belgium, will look to make an immediate impact on the Lady Monarchs’ offensive unit as a forward.
A grueling 18-game regular-season schedule, including 11 teams that reached the NCAA tournament and seven conference champions, will prepare the team as it attempts to claim its first BIG EAST Tournament title and challenge for its 10th National Championship. To further this note, of the 11 NCAA Tournament qualifying teams, ODU will take on all four of the teams that reached the Final Four and the 2013 National Champion, Connecticut.
This season, the Lady Monarchs will play eight of their 18 games at home, including a three-game stint from Sep. 21 to Oct. 3. ODU opens up the 2014 season on the road against Penn St. on Aug. 29 at 5:00 p.m.