LEXINGTON, Va. -- This weekend will be busy and full of travel for the Virginia Military Institute women’s water polo team. The Keydets head up the East Coast for three games, stopping off in Princeton, N.J. Saturday for a neutral site match with George Washington University, followed by a pair of games Sunday at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.
VMI opens the weekend with the Colonials on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Princeton University’s DeNunzio Pool for a non-league game. On Sunday, the Keydets take on Siena College at 9 a.m. followed by an afternoon tilt with Villanova University at 1:30 p.m. Sunday’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games will be contested at Iona’s Hynes Pool.
Saturday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between VMI and George Washington in women’s water polo. The Keydets (11-14, 1-5 MAAC) will be looking to exact revenge on Sunday against Siena and Villanova, falling to Siena at VMI’s Clark King Pool and dropping a narrow 10-9 decision to the Wildcats at the Villanova Swim Complex.
The Keydets’ leading goal-getter, Celine Lazzaro, will look to extend her record-setting 11-game scoring streak this weekend. The sophomore captain leads VMI’s offense 71 goals, the most in a single season by any Keydet. Lazzaro is ranked third in the conference in goals per game, potting just shy of three per outing (2.96).
Freshman Caitlyn Jackson, named the MAAC Rookie of the Week on Feb. 12, is second in scoring for VMI, tucking away 45 goals so far in 2013. The young goal scorer joins Lazzaro in the MAAC’s top 10 goal list, averaging 1.88 goals per game. Nipping at Jackson’s heels is Mackenzie Perkins, who led VMI’s offense last season with 64 goals. This year, she has 35 tallies and has scored in six of the Keydets’ last eight games.
But those three are not the only ones to contribute goals. Every field player has scored at least one goal for VMI this season, while Justina Dunne and Joyce Zabala have hit the double digit mark with 22 and 16 goals, respectively.
In goal, VMI is anchored by freshman Molly Watkins. The 6-1 rookie has stopped 208 opponent attempts this season and has played 624 minutes of Keydet water polo already this year. She is ranked third in the league in saves per game, stopping 8.67 an outing. Watkins is also one of only two freshman to be ranked in the top 10 in saves per game in the MAAC.As a team, VMI’s offense is ranked fourth in the league for goals per game, scoring 9.13 on average through 24 games played. On the opposite side of the pool, VMI is also fourth in scoring defense, holding foes to just 11.90 goals per game.