‘Cats Set to Battle Top Seeded Liberty in BIG EAST Semifinals

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VILLANOVA, PA.—The postseason has arrived and Villanova (9-8, 4-3) is set for their toughest game of the season as they take on No.6 Liberty (16-1, 7-0) in the BIG EAST semifinals on Friday afternoon.

The reigning tournament champions come in as heavy favorites to repeat as they went undefeated in conference play, outscoring opponents 26-3. Liberty is led by their defensive tandem of Jodie Conolly and goalkeeper Azul Iritxity Irigoyen. The duo won both BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year respectively. The Flames rank second in the country in save percentage and third in total shutouts. On the offensive end Liberty ranks atop the conference in nine statistical categories. They execute every aspect of the game well and that is why they are tied with Northwestern for the best record in the nation.

The two teams squared off in Lynchburg on October 3rd with Liberty winning 6-0. Villanova was held to just five shots on goal but did manage to record 10 penalty corners in the contest. The Wildcats were the best in the conference at winning corners and have scored 16 goals this season courtesy of the action.

BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year Meghan Mitchell leads the ‘Cats with 15 goals. She will need to utilize every aspect of her game to trouble the Flame defense. Second team all-conference honoree Sabine de Ruijter joins Mitchell in attack alongside fellow team captain Amanda Middleman. The trio is among the conferences’ best as they combined for 81 points on the season.

The Wildcats come into Friday’s matchup as heavy underdogs. Coming off a thrilling 4-3 victory over Providence to keep their season alive they will have to play the perfect game to extend their season once again. Joanie Milhous is confident in her group and knows they have what it takes to pull out a win.

After being picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches poll the ‘Cats impressed many by making it this far. The entire country will be impressed if they can take down Liberty. Game time is set for 1 p.m. Friday, November 3rd at Howarth Field in Philadelphia.

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