CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA

This week, intraconference play begins for the Big East field hockey teams, and after a rough start to the season, no team is more excited for the chance to start fresh than Georgetown (0-6). On Friday at 7 p.m., Georgetown will face off against Providence (3-3), a tough team that boasts a 6-1 record against Georgetown since 2006.

Before conference play begins and each match bears increasing significance for the postseason, here’s a look at the talented Big East field hockey teams.

Starting out west, the Louisville Cardinals (4-2) are off to a hot start this season. Their two losses, each by only one goal, came against No. 4 Virginia and Michigan, but Louisville has outscored its opponents 21-6 so far this season. Freshman forward Shannon Sloss leads the Cardinals with 9 points, while her teammate junior back Alyssa Voelmle follows closely behind with 8.

Looking north, No. 3 Connecticut (5-0) has also started its season on the right foot. Junior forward Chloe Hunnable leads her squad with 14 points this season, and the Huskies expect big things from Hunnable this year as a returning Big East first team player. With victories against Stanford and Penn State already in the books, Connecticut knows that it has a shot at the Big East title.

Providence (3-3), Georgetown’s opponent this Friday, is in a good position heading into Big East play. With two of their three losses coming by just one goal, the Friars have a solid defense that can keep them competitive in any match.

“It’s going to be hockey that a lot of these girls have never seen — it will be eye-opening for us, but I am so ready for these young ones to see it,” Head Coach Tiffany Hubbard said about this Friday’s match against Providence.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how we stand against them. This is their Big East home opener, so it should be an exciting setting for this team,” Hubbard said.

The Friars have a potent scorer in junior forward Daniella Bernasconi, who leads her team with an impressive 8 goals and 16 points this season. The next closest player is Henni Tietze, who has just 1 goal and 3 points.

While Georgetown plays Providence on Friday, No. 20 Old Dominion will be at Villanova in a battle between the old and the new.

“We added Old Dominion as a member, which is typically one of the best programs in the nation,” Hubbard said of the Big East conference realignment. “It’s not going to change too much from a field hockey standpoint though,” she added.

So far in 2013, Old Dominion (1-5) has struggled to get into a rhythm. The team has only one winthe beginning of September. Old Dominion has scored just six goals in as many matches, a sign that the team’s forwards are struggling to establish an aggressive presence in the offensive third. The defense has performed relatively well, allowing on average just over two goals per game. With only two seniors to lead the team, Old Dominion is in for a challenge against Villanova on Friday.

Villanova (2-4) has started the season in a similar manner as Old Dominion. After an opening day win at ranked La Salle, Villanova was blown out 10-0 at home against a fast North Carolina team. Excluding that match, however, the team has outscored its opponents 10-9 in 2013. Using a balanced offense and defense, Villanova is hoping to begin Big East play with a win against a vulnerable Old Dominion squad. The Wildcats certainly expect big things from junior forward Jessica Swoboda who scored two goals against Saint Louis this past weekend.

Finally, both Temple (4-2) and Rutgers (3-3) have had strong starts to the 2013 season. With decisive wins against Ohio State and Penn State, Temple is doing its best to prove its worth as a new member of the Big East. Junior forward Amber Youtz, last year’s Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, leads the team with 20 points. Look for her to be a major factor in 2013 Big East Conference play.

Rutgers has had the most ups and downs of any Big East team so far this year, as it has struggled to get any sort of offensive or defensive consistency going. The Scarlet Knights have outscored their opponents 16-7 this season, yet they sit at a disappointing .500. On Sunday, Rutgers plays host to Connecticut, the Big East’s only undefeated team. A win against the Huskies could point the Scarlet Knights in the right direction, though it will take all that this team can muster to take down arguably the best team in the conference.

As for the Hoyas, Hubbard’s squad knows what lies ahead.

“The biggest challenge is playing up to the caliber of these teams — they’re going to have big talent and are going to play a very fast-paced game,” Hubbard said.

For now, however, the Blue and Gray are only focused on this Friday.

“This week of practice has been very intense, more so than the past few weeks. We know the potential that we have, and that’s why I’m excited for [Providence]. The better the teams we play against, the better we play, so I’m excited to see how we handle the tougher competition,” Hubbard said.

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