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Atlantic 10 improving against non-conference foes

Last week, the Atlantic 10 field hockey conference faced considerable adversity, losing nine of 12 non-conference games. This week, the field of seven did well to alleviate those woes by splitting six games with their unfamiliar foes.

All six games resulted in shutouts as the seven A-10 squads weathered out their non-conference schedule.

The first three foreign tilts ended in lopsided losses as Richmond dropped its match to No. 11 James Madison, West Chester fell against Lafayette and UMass conceded to Connecticut, each game ending in a score of 3-0.

The conference challengers avenged those losses by reeling off three straight victories. UMass rebounded with a 1-0 win over Harvard, La Salle bested Villanova 2-0 and Saint Joseph’s downed Rutgers 4-0 to end the week’s action.

It has been the case all season that the A-10 has faced unfavorable opponents, and this past week was no different. The combined record of the opponents faced in this past week’s losses is 31-10.

Saint Louis and Davidson were slated to tangle, but their game was cancelled when the Billikens were unable to fill a complete roster.

As a whole, the conference will be glad to rid itself of non-conference opponents as they managed to win just 32 games out of 85, a winning percentage of .380.

West Chester and Temple are relieved of those pressures while the remaining five teams gear themselves up for one more non-conference match apiece.

St. Joe’s on the rebound

St. Joe’s made good use of a 12-day rest as they ran away with two wins this past week. The Hawks (4-7, 1-0 A-10) play is showing marked improvement since a lackluster 0-5 start.

St. Joe’s recorded a pair of 4-0 shutouts against Temple and Rutgers behind the stifling play of Kelly Swanick in goal. Swanick’s defense kept the ball away from her end of the field for most of the weekend allowing only eight shots total in 140 minutes of play. But her flawless net-work did earn her the recognition of the A-10 Co-Player of the Week award. Sunday was Swanick’s third shutout of the season giving the junior seven for her career.

The Owls have now let up just three goals in their last four games.

At the forefront of St. Joe’s offense is Anne Schreuders who scored five points in this week’s action (2 goals, 1 assist). In the past six games since the Owls first win, Schreuders has had four goals and two assists. She is third in the conference in shots (40), goals (20) and assists (8).

The Owls’ first five games were played on the road, compounding the fact that they played top-tier opponents including two ranked teams in No. 10 Duke and No. 14 Drexel.

Luckily for St. Joe’s, the slate is clean when it comes to conference play.

Richmond setting records

Richmond put together a record setting performance on Friday and then went scoreless on Sunday. The Spiders (6-7, 1-0 A-10) are becoming a model for consistency – that is, consistently mediocre.

Friday was a day for the record books in Virginia as the home team walloped Saint Louis 12-0 to tie a school record in goals scored. Sarah Blythe-Wood and Megan Thompson led the offensive barrage setting their own school records with five goals and three assists, respectively.

Blythe-Wood’s performance comes as no surprise to anyone who follows the Spiders as she has been a catalyst for the Richmond squad all season long. Including an assist in the second half, the senior had 11 points in the matchup against the Billikens as she is climbing up the school leader-board in single-season and career numbers. She moves one goal and three points away from 10th place in single-season goals scored and points scored. She also trails Thompson by one point on the all-time Richmond scoring list.

The back-forward tandem has been potent this season leading the league in goals scored (Blythe-Wood, 14) and assists (Thompson, 8). Blythe-Wood also ranks third in assists putting her well atop the conference in points (35), 14 more than West Chester forward Melissa LeNoir who ranks second. Her performance earned her Co-Player of the Week honors.

As good as their offensive effort was against Saint Louis, the Spiders could not seem to buy a goal in their game against James Madison. The  No. 11 Dukes shot half as many times as Richmond, but made the most of them holding the opposition scoreless in a 3-0 win.

The Dukes shot for quality more than quantity in this match as they made the most of their penalty corners scoring on three out of four while giving up eight to the Spiders.

Richmond seemed to have trouble starting off the halves as they gave up one goal in the ninth minute of the first half and two coming out of the gate 10 minutes into the second half.

The Spiders won two of their last four and four of their last eight. They have won and lost back-to-back games twice this season. The Spiders will play five of their last six games against the A-10, though, where they have been stellar going 55-5 in their last 60 games.

Daniel Gigliotti can be reached at dgigliot@student.umass.edu.

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