HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 20, 2012 – The James Madison field hockey team opens up Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend with a two-game road trip to No. 23 Drexel and Towson. JMU plays at Drexel at 3:30 p.m. on Friday before heading to Towson for a noon game on Sunday.
The Dukes have won four straight games, including three in overtime and two victories over ranked opponents. Over the past two seasons, Madison has played nine overtime games, going 7-2 during that time.
All seven of JMU’s games this season have been decided by one goal, and over the past two seasons the team has played 16 games with a one-goal margin. The Dukes are 12-4 during that stretch.
Last weekend, redshirt freshman forward Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md./Pocomoke) tallied a goal in each game to help lift her team to wins over Longwood and No. 18 Boston College. West capitalized on a JMU penalty stroke in the second half against Longwood and scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to help Madison upset B.C. West has tallied at least one point in five of JMU’s seven games this season and has registered a point in eight of her 10 career games. In just 10 games played, West ranks second on the active scoring list with nine goals and 21 points.
Also scoring goals for the Dukes last week were redshirt junior forward Rachel Wein (Perryville, Md./Perryville), sophomore forward Bethany Ashworth (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) and sophomore back Dana Allaband (Elkton, Md./Rising Sun). Wein is tied with West for the team lead with three goals while Ashworth tallied her second goal of the year. Allaband’s goal was the first of her career and was the game-winning strike against the Lancers.
Freshman goalkeeper Lena Wimmert (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany/Lise-Meitner Gymnasium) ranks fifth in the country in save percentage and ninth in goals against average. She has turned aside 38 of the 47 shots she’s faced for an .809 save percentage and a 1.19 GAA. She is 5-2 with one shutout in 528 minutes, 45 seconds played this season.
As a team, JMU ranks fourth in the country in save percentage and ninth in goals against average. The Dukes have allowed just nine goals in seven games played. Two players, redshirt junior back Sam Smiertka (Townsend, Del./St. Thomas More) and freshman back Loes Stijntjes (België, Belgiium/Heilig Hartcollege), have recorded defensive saves for the team.
JMU is 4-4 under head coach Antoinette Lucas in CAA openers, but has won four of its last five. Last season, the Dukes dropped their conference opener at home to Drexel. The Dragons prevailed 4-3 in penalty strokes.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Dragons started the season 5-0, including wins over fifth-ranked Duke and 22nd-ranked California, but have dropped three straight to fall to 5-3. All three losses have come on the road for Drexel while the team is 2-0 at Buckley Field in Philadelphia.
Offensively, Drexel is led by midfielder Lindsay McArdle with a team-high five goals and eight points. She’s scored her five goals on a team-leading 25 shots, including 14 shots on goal. Senior midfielder Amanda Fleischut is tied for the team lead in assists with McArdle with three and is second on the team in points with seven.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jantien Gunter has started all eight games in net for the Dragons. She has gone 5-3 with a 1.93 goals against average in 512 minutes played. She has stopped 33 of the 44 shots faced for a .750 save percentage.
Denise Zelenak is in her 18th season as the head coach for Drexel. She has a 181-166 record with the team.
The Tigers are off to a 0-7 start in 2012, but have played just one home game. Last weekend, they dropped a 6-0 decision at Bucknell before falling at home to Providence, 6-2. They host VCU on Friday before welcoming JMU on Sunday.
Towson is led by a pair of young players in sophomore midfielder Courtney Branco and freshman forward Heather Jenney. They are tied for the team lead with four goals each with Branco leading the team in points with 10. Branco also has a team-high 16 shots, including 12 on goal. Senior midfielder Janine Kovach is tied with Branco for the team lead in assists with two.
Sophomore Tashani Dickson has started all seven games in net for Towson. She is 0-7 with a 6.00 goals against average and a .533 save percentage.
In six seasons at the helm for the Tigers, head coach Michelle Webber is 43-52. She is 65-87 in nine seasons overall as a head coach.
The Dukes are 25-6 all-time against this weekend’s opponents dating back to 1976. They are 8-5 all-time against Drexel, but have lost two straight in the series. In five games games played in Philadelphia, JMU holds a slight 3-2 lead over the Dragons.
JMU lost the very first meeting in the series with Towson, but has won 17 straight to lead the all-time series 17-1. JMU is 7-1 in games played in Towson.
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