Oct. 15, 2009

By Amy Farnum

NEVER A DULL MOMENT:  Most of the Atlantic Coast Conference field hockey teams step out of league play for the weekend, but there is still one key conference match-up slated for Oct. 17 as No. 3 Virginia hosts No. 2 North Carolina in a battle between two of the nation’s top teams.

The Tar Heels, perfect in ACC play at 3-0, have outscored opponents 67-3 on the year, and lead the nation with 5.15 goals per game and a 0.23 goals against average.  Before a 2-1 win over Duke last weekend, UNC tied an ACC record with its ninth straight shutout in a victory versus Boston College.

The Cavaliers’ only setback of the season was a 3-1 loss to No. 1 Maryland on Oct. 2, and they are fresh off a 3-2 overtime win against Wake Forest that evened their ACC record at 1-1.  Virginia has posted the second-best goals against average (0.85) in the league this season, and is outscoring foes by 2.42 goals per game, which ranks seventh nationally.

There will also be some interesting non-conference match-ups between ACC teams and ranked opponents this weekend, starting with No. 20 Old Dominion at top-ranked Maryland on Oct. 16.  The Terps will also travel to No. 17 Delaware on Oct. 18.  The Tar Heels will follow up their trip at Virginia with a visit to No. 11 James Madison on Oct. 18, while No. 15 Duke will also take on ODU the same day.  Fifth ranked Wake Forest travels to the University of Louisville, where it will face No. 14 Louisville on Sunday.

ACC teams are 19-1 (.950) against ranked non-conference foes this season.

  No. 11 James Madison is riding a five-game winning streak after notching a pair of 3-0 shutouts last weekend thanks to the offensive production of Dolores de Rooij’s four goals.

The native of Vlaardingen, The Netherlands, tallied the game-winning goal in both victories against VCU and Richmond.  De Rooij also turned in her first career hat trick against the Spiders, scoring each of the three goals at the top of the circle on penalty corner opportunities.

The junior midfielder ranks second in the Colonial Athletic Association with eight goals and 18 points, and was named CAA Player of the Week for her efforts.  Freshman Vivienne Konijnendijk assisted on each of de Rooij’s four goals to set a JMU single-season freshman mark with nine assists.

The win against VCU put the Dukes in a three-way tie for first place in the CAA with Delaware and Drexel, but the whole league steps away from conference play for the weekend.  JMU has outscored foes 22-4 over the last five games, but has a tough challenge ahead when it hosts No. 2 North Carolina on Oct. 18.

SPARTAN POWER:  No. 8 Michigan State enters a weekend match-up with Big Ten rival Iowa on a six-game winning streak as the Spartans look to strengthen sole possession of first place in the conference standings with a win against the Hawkeyes.

Senior goalkeeper Elissa Unger, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, combined for 13 saves against Indiana and Central Michigan last weekend and picked up her second shutout of the season with the 2-0 victory over the Chippewas.  The native of Reading, Pa., plays an integral role in the Spartans’ stout defense that ranks second in the league with a 1.48 GAA.

Offensively, MSU is at the top of the league statistics with a 3.52 scoring average paced by senior Floor Rijpma, who leads the team with 27 points on 12 goals and three assists.

Iowa (4-7, 1-2) will be attempting to even its’ league record with a win over the Spartans on Oct. 16 at 5 p.m.  Fans can follow the game live on Gametracker on www.msuspartans.com.