HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 6, 2011 – After a road trip up to the northeastern corner of the conference last weekend, the James Madison field hockey team returns home for a Colonial Athletic Association game against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday before returning to the road on Sunday for a game at nationally-ranked Duke. Friday’s game against VCU is set for a 7 p.m. start at the JMU Field Hockey Complex while Sunday’s game at Williams Field will begin at 1 p.m.
The Dukes come into the weekend with a 4-6 overall mark and are 1-3 in CAA play. VCU sits at 3-9 on the season and is tied with Madison at 1-3 in league play while Duke, ranked eighth in this week’s Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll, comes in at 7-4 and 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Last weekend, JMU dropped a pair of tough road games. It played its fourth overtime game in its last five ventures out on the field in a 2-1 loss at Northeastern on Friday before battling Hofstra to 4-1 loss on Sunday. Two Dukes registered their first goals of the season as redshirt sophomore Rachel Wein (Perryville, Md./Perryville) tallied against the Huskies and freshman Bethany Ashworth (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) scored her first career goal in the loss to the Pride.
Madison continues to get a quality effort from its defense as it is limiting opponents to a 2.20 goals against average on just .153 shooting. Senior goalkeeper Margo Savage (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne) ranks 11th in the country with a .775 save percentage while also ranking in the top 31 in goals against average and save percentage. She is 3-5 with one shutout, 62 saves and a 1.89 goals against average in 10 games played.
Senior Lindsay Cutchins (Suffolk, Va./Lakeland), junior Auburn Weisensale (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield), sophomore Amy Goldstein (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) and freshman Rachel Palumbo (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) have started every game along the back line for Madison. They have held opponents to just 54 penalty corners and 14.4 shots per game.
Against the Blue Devils, JMU is going for its first win against a Top-10 team since beating No. 8 Virginia on Sept. 10, 2008. This season the Dukes have taken on two such teams, falling to No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Virginia earlier this season.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Rams were also swept on the road trip up to Northeastern and Hofstra last weekend and have now lost five of their previous six games. The lone win came in a 4-2 triumph over Drexel on Sept. 25 at the Cary Street Field.
Offensively, VCU is led by junior Kelsey Scherrer with six goals and two assists for a team-best 14 points. She also leads the team in shots with 32. Sophomore Stephanie DeMasi is second on the team in points with 10. She leads the team in assists with six and has chipped in two goals on four shots. Freshman Kendell Combs has added two goals and four assists for eight points.
Senior Erin Jablonski has started all 12 games in goal for VCU. She is 3-9 with a 3.23 goals against average and a .624 save percentage. She has turned away 63 shots while playing all but 16 minutes, 19 seconds in goal. Demasi has collected two of the team’s three defensive saves with sophomore Meredith McNelis registering the other.
Head coach Kelly McQuade is in her fifth season as the head coach for VCU. She has compiled a 34-52 record including leading the team to a 13-7 record and the No. 4 seed at last year’s CAA Championship.
The Blue Devils won back-to-back games over nationally-ranked opponents last week, upsetting No. 8 Boston College on the Road on Friday before taking down No. 18 Boston University on Sunday. This season they are 7-4, including a 2-1 mark against teams from the CAA. Duke beat Delaware and Drexel on consecutive days in early September before falling to No. 2 Old Dominion in double overtime on Sept. 18.
Sophomore Emmie Le Marchand is the reigning ACC Player of the Week after accounting for a goal and two assists in the upset win over Boston College. She leads the team with 20 points, scoring eight goals and assisting on four others. She is third on the team with 28 shots, including a team-best 18 on goal. Junior Devon Gagliardi is second with five goals and two assists for 12 points.
Senior Samantha Nelson has played every minute in net for the Blue Devils, going 7-4 with four shutouts and a 1.25 goals against average. She has stopped 36 shots for a .706 save percentage.
Pam Bustin is in her first year as the head coach of Duke. She came to Durham, N.C., after 13 seasons at Louisville and is 171-131 in 15 total years as a head coach.
JMU and VCU have played 37 times in their histories with the Dukes holding a 29-8 lead all-time. Last season, Madison lost a 4-3 overtime decision in Richmond, Va., but prior to that had won five straight against the Rams. JMU is 15-3 in games played in Harrisonburg.
Duke leads JMU 13-11-1 in 25-game series, including a 1-0 overtime win in Harrisonburg last season. Three of the last four meetings between the teams have gone to overtime, with JMU winning 5-4 in the only none overtime game. That win came in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Madison is 4-7 in games at Duke.
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