Aug. 31, 2010

By Amy Farnum
NCAA.com

UP TO THE CHALLENGE:
 The Atlantic Coast Conference boasts a pretty solid reputation as the toughest conference in Division I women’s field hockey, and rightfully so with six league teams ranked in the Top 10 of NFHCA preseason poll.  Two of those squads stood up to the test during the opening weekend of play at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in Chapel Hill, N.C., as No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Wake Forest swept No. 19 Iowa and Michigan.

The Tar Heels served up two 3-0 shutouts against Big Ten foes, sparked by the offensive prowess of sophomore midfielder Kelsey Kolojejchick, who contributed two goals and an assist on the weekend.  The native of Larksville, Pa., was the 2009 ACC Freshman of the Year after scoring 15 goals along with eight assists for 38 points during her rookie campaign.

Six different Demon Deacon players netted scores on the weekend, including two apiece by Lizzie Rae and Taylor Rhea.  Rae tapped in a pair of goals for the Deacons, propelling them to a 3-1 victory over No. 19 Iowa.

With a couple of non-conference games under their belts, North Carolina and Wake Forest will jump right into ACC action as the two nationally-ranked teams face each other on Sept. 3 in Winston-Salem.  The Tar Heels knocked off the Deacons twice last year by identical 4-1 scores.

ONCE A STAR … University of Maryland senior forward Katie O’Donnell started the season where she left off in 2009 as the native of Blue Bell, Pa., combined for two goals and three assists in a pair of Terrapin wins to open the new year.

O’Donnell tallied a goal and an assist in the Terps’ 4-2 win over No. 11 Drexel, and followed it up with the first goal of the game against Villanova as No. 2 Maryland began the season 2-0.  

Recently named a finalist for The Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year Award, O’Donnell is the reigning ACC and National Player of the Year after contributing 28 goals and 31 assists for an NCAA-leading 87 points during the Terps’ NCAA runner-up campaign last year.

ON THE OFFENSIVE:
After falling to Duke 3-2 in double overtime at the Champions Invitational Tournament on Aug. 29, No. 13 Louisville exploded for a 9-0 victory over Central Michigan the next day.

Senior Nicole Youman sparked the offensive production, tying a school-record with five goals in the contest.  The native of Black Mountain, Australia, also contributed two assists in the game, and now ranks second in the Cardinals’ all-time list for assists with 35.  Youman, a Preseason All-BIG EAST section, was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week for her performance.

FIRST TIME’S THE CHARM:  Michigan State redshirt freshman goalkeeper Molly Cassidy picked up Big Ten Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week honors after helping the Spartans to a pair of a victories in the Champions Invitational Tournament last weekend.

Cassidy opened the season with three saves in a 4-2 defeat of Central Michigan, and then followed it up with a stellar 10-save performance for her first career shutout in the Spartans 1-0 win against No. 10 Duke.

The native of Encinitas, Calif., and her Spartan teammates will now travel to Cassidy’s home state for a trio of games against California, Pacific and Stanford.

QUICK STICKS:  No. 12 James Madison combined to outscore foes 10-0 with victories over Rutgers and Kent State to open the season.  Amy Daniel highlighted the Dukes’ offensive outburst with a hat trick in JUM’s 6-0 defeat of the Scarlet Knights … Stanford senior forward Jaimee Erickson garnered NorPac Offensive Player of the Week after tallying a game-high three points in the Cardinal’s 6-0 win versus Pacific to open the 2010 season.