WLAX Minute: Non-League Play Winding Down

Nikki Boltja, Louisville

Nikki Boltja, Louisville

March 20, 2014

BIG EAST Play Approaching
Conference play begins on Friday, March 28 when Marquette hosts Cincinnati at 7 p.m. BIG EAST squads will enjoy one more weekend of nonconference play before league play takes over. Through Wednesday’s games, BIG EAST teams are 32-30 (.516) in nonleague action, with nine more nonconference tilts scheduled before next Friday’s opener and a total of 13 remaining on the calendar overall.

Trending Up
After starting the season 1-3, Cincinnati has won four straight to move to 5-3 entering the weekend. The Bearcats have improved in nearly every statistical category from the first four games, including shots per game (26.8 up from 17.8), goals per game (13.0 from 7.5) and caused turnovers (29 from 23). During the four-game winning streak, Courtney Curtis has registered a team-high 17 points on a Bearcat-best 12 goals and five assists, while Meg Gulmi has shown a .460 save percentage, up from .233 to start the year. Connecticut (three straight) and Louisville (two straight) also own active multiple-game winning streaks.

In The Polls
Of the eight member schools, one squad is listed in both major polls while one other is receiving votes in the latest IWLCA Coaches Poll. Announced on Monday, Georgetown leads the pack, landing at No. 13 in the ILWCA and No. 16 in the Brine Media Poll. Louisville, which leads the BIG EAST with six wins so far, is just outside the top 20 of the IWLCA Poll but is receiving votes.

National Leaders
Four BIG EAST players rank in the top 10 nationally in six statistical categories, including three alone by Louisville’s Nikki Boltja. Boltja, a unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, is fourth among all Division I players with 31 goals, while her goals per game average of 3.88 lists sixth. The senior also stands ninth in points with 39. Teammate Kaylin Morissette is fourth nationally in draw controls (7.63), while Rutgers’ Amanda Currell is the NCAA’s fifth-ranked goalkeeper in save percentage with a .542 clip. Connecticut’s Lauren Kahn rounds out the group, listing eighth in caused turnovers (2.5). As a team, the Cardinals rank ninth among all Division I squads with their 15.25 draw control average.