HARRISONBURG, Va., Oct. 25, 2012 – With just one game remaining on its regular-season schedule, the James Madison field hockey team travels to Delaware on Friday looking to solidify its conference standing. JMU and UD close out their schedules with a 5 p.m. game at Rullo Stadium.
The Dukes enter the weekend with a 9-7 overall record and a 3-3 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play. With a win over the Blue Hens, they will finish no worse than the third seed for next week’s CAA tournament and could climb as high as second.
JMU earns the CAA’s second seed if it wins and Drexel loses both its games this weekend. The Dragons play at home against league-leading Northeastern and on the road against Hofstra. A loss by the Dukes drops them to either the fourth or fifth seed, depending on William & Mary’s result at home against Old Dominion on Sunday.
Northeastern clinches the top seed if it defeats Drexel on Friday. A loss would mean the Huskies must defeat Towson on Sunday and Drexel must lose to Hofstra. Drexel clinches the top seed with wins over both NU and Hofstra.
Madison continues to rank amongst the best defensive teams in the nation, ranking first in the country in save percentage at .839. It also ranks fifth in goals against average (1.09), ninth in shutouts (five) and 25th in defensive saves (five). Freshman goalkeeper Lena Wimmert (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany/Lise-Meitner Gymnasium) leads the nation in save percentage at .832. She is fifth in goals against average (1.09) and 31st in saves per game (5.56).
Redshirt junior back Sam Smiertka (Townsend, Del/St. Thomas More) leads the team with two defensive saves.
Redshirt freshman forward Taylor West (Princess Anne, Md./Pocomoke) is tied with redshirt junior forward Rachel Wein (Perryville, Md./Perryville) for the team lead in goals and points. Both players have six goals and three assists for 15 points. Sophomore back Dana Allaband (Elkton, Md./Rising Sun) leads the team and is tied for sixth in the conference in assists with seven.
Senior forward Courtney Versfeld (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe/Dominican Convent), sophomore forward Bethany Ashworth (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) and Rachel Palumbo (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) and freshman forward Danni Wilson (Port Elizabeth, South Africa/Collegiate) are all tied for third on the team with two goals apiece.
The Blue Hens have won three straight, all against conference opponents, to improve to 7-10 overall and 3-3 in the CAA. Last weekend, they went on the road to earn a 4-2 win over Drexel before dominating Towson, 4-0, on Sunday. They clinch the CAA’s second seed with a win over JMU and a loss by Drexel to Northeastern.
Delaware is led offensively by defensive back Kelsey McKee with 10 goals and two assists for 22 points. She has scored her 10 goals on just 27 shots and is tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals with midfielder Michaela Patzner. Patzner is second on the team in goals with six and points with 13. Back Heather Hartman leads the team with eight assists. Midfielder Clare O’Malley is tops with two defensive saves.
Sarah Scher is the team’s primary goalkeeper, going 6-6 with a 2.95 goals against average in 12 starts. She’s stopped 65 of the 101 shots on goal she’s faced for a .644 save percentage. Megane Simons is 1-4 with a 3.45 goals against average in seven games played.
Rolf van de Kerkhof is in his second season with Delaware. He owns a 16-20 record with the team and an overall 90-54 mark in seven seasons as a head coach.
JMU has won three straight against Delaware to lead the all-time series 8-5. The Dukes are 4-1 in games played in Newark, including a 7-1 victory in the last meeting there in 2010. Last season, Madison won a pair of one-goal games against the Blue Hens, beating them 1-0 in Harrisonburg on the final day of the regular season before earning a 2-1 victory in the CAA Championship six days later.
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