Bright Stars of the 2022-23 Villanova Athletics Season

July 15, 2023 –

This is the fifth in a series for the City Six athletic programs where we look back at the bright, shining stars from the athletic season.

We will name the Team of the year and Student Athlete of the year for each school. In addition we will list an honor roll for teams and student athletes. A team recognition will be noted by a championship, post season advancement, and / or a significant achievement. To be named as a student athlete one should have a national award or honor, a league accolade, significant achievement, or team record.

Let’s take a look back at the past season on the Main Line, the fields, The Pavillion, the pools, and the links.

Team of the Year: Villanova Women’s Basketball

Simply said, the Villanova Women’s Basketball team became the talk of the town at the end of the basketball season. The Wildcats went to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, the second time they have advanced that far. The team drew a four seed, their second-highest number, as an at-large team and hosted two tournament games, defeating Cleveland State and Florida Gulf Coast University before falling to Miami. Coach Denise Dillon’s team was led by Maddy Siegrist who is named the Student – Athlete of the Year with details to follow. Nova posted a 30 – 7 record, the most wins in a single-season in program history. Dillon recoded her 400th coaching victory against FGCU. During the season the Wildcats achieved a #10 ranking, the second highest in program history. Villanova entered the Sweet 16 as winners of 21 of their last 24 games. The losses were all to UConn. The Wildcats are the Big Five Champions. Guard Lucy Olsen was selected to the Big East second team. Forward Christina Dalce set the single-season record with blocked shots at 86. She is also the Big Five Most Improved Player. A season to be remembered!

Student – Athlete of the Year – Maddy Siegrist, Women’s Basketball

A season of accomplishments, awards, and records for Siegrist. A season where she became the highest draft selection for a player from a local school since the territorial draft. Siegrist was selected the third player overall by the Dallas Wings in the WNBA Draft. The forward led the nation in scoring in points per game with a 29.2 average, and in total points getting 1,081, the fifth player in Division I Women’s basketball to score 1,000 points in a single season. She was a finalist for the Wade Trophy and the Wooden Award.

It will be remembered at Villanova when Siegrist scored 23 points at Creighton to become the all-time leading scorer in Villanova basketball history, both for men and women, passing the legendary Shelly Pennefather. She finished her career with 2,896 points. It is the most in the Philadelphia Big Five women’s basketball history and women’s Division I basketball in Philadelphia.

Siegrist was selected to the 2023 AP First-Team, and was a selectee by the WBCA and Wooden All-American teams. The senior won the Katrina McLain Award given to the best power forward in women’s basketball. Siegrist was the Big East Player of the Year where she holds the record for most points in regular season conference games at 1,694. She is the Big Five Player of the Year. In January Siegrist received the Outstanding Amateur Athlete Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association.

The senior scored 50 points against Seton Hall in February. It set a school record for most points in a single game, a record that stood for 37 years. In the game Siegrist went 20-for-26 from the field to set the Big East record for most baskets in a single game and tie the program-mark for most made field goals. Against Georgetown the senior sank 16 of 17 from the free throw line to set the Nova record for career-record for most made free throws at 367. She finished with 498 from the charity stripe. In the 35-point performance against Cleveland State, Siegrist set the program-record for most points in an NCAA Tournament game.

And there is even more, like ranking second on the program list in rebounds with 1,102.

Maddy Siegrist will be remembered as an all-time Villanova great. And a role model for future Wildcats.

Honor Roll Teams

Men’s Cross Country

The team won the NCAA Mid-Atlantic team regional and qualified for the NCAA meet. It is second such crown for Villanova. Liam Murphy won the individual championship. More details about Murphy follows. Five scoring runners for the Wildcats were in the top-twelve overall. Marco Langdon ran fourth with a time of 30:05.06. Charlie O’Donovan ran eighth at 30:12.0. Other scoring runners for Nova were Josh Phillips and Jack Jennings who ran identical times of 30:15.6 to place 11th and 12th. Villanova put up a team score of 36 points.

Earlier the team won its second consecutive Big East Championship, and eight overall. Five Villanova runners finished in the top-ten overall, and just 22 seconds difference between the best Nova finisher and the other Wildcats. The team scored 27 points, representing the lowest score in the history of the Big East meet. It is the second time Villanova scored 30 points or below in this championship. Haftu Strintzos and Murphy finished second and third overall with Strintzos running a 23:21. Murphy ran a 23:28. Other team top-ten finishers members were O’Donovan (23:24), Jennings (23:37), and Phillips (23:43).

Women’s Swimming and Diving

The team brought home the Big East Championship for the 10th consecutive year. It was their 15th championship for the program since 1992. Over the tournament the Wildcats totaled 1,534 points and 21 finishes on the podium. Audrey Pastorek earned the Most Outstanding Swimmer Award. This is her first award, but a Villanova swimmer has been named Most Outstanding Swimmer for the last ten meets. Pastorek won 5 gold medals; 200m IM (2:01.35), 100m Backstroke (55.14), 200m Backstroke 1:56.30), and was on the 200 Medley Relay (25.28 split / team time 1:40.48) and 400m Meter Relay (Backstroke leg 54.63 split and team time of 3:42.13) teams. Winnie Jalet won the 200m Breaststroke with a personal-best time of 2:13.41. Katie White won the 200m Fly in 1:59.19. All five relay teams (800 Free, 200 Medley, 200 Free, 400 Medley, and 400 Free)hit the touch pad first. The relay teams extended a winning streak of 11 consecutive races when the 400m Freestyle Relay team of Cara Stapleton, Molly Benson, Perri Stahl, and Lexi Elkovitch won the race with a time of 3:23.77. The coaching staff of Rick Simpson, Todd Michael, Laura McGlaughlin, Ben Delia, and Evan Anthony were named the Co-Coaching Staff of the Year.

Men’s 4 x Mile Penn Relays Team

Sean Donoghue, Charlie O’Donovan, Sean Dolan, and Liam Murphy combined to run a time of 16:14.03 to win the 4 x Mile for the 21st time. The time was the second-fastest in the history of the race for Nova. This victory was a thriller. Murphy took the baton from Dolan as part of a pack of five racing together. As the final leg progressed, Villanova was in 9th place with just 250 meters remaining. Murphy put on a furious kick and hit the finish line first by a quarter-second over Wisconsin. The splits for the Wildcats were Donoghue (401.24), O’Donovan (4:01.80), Dolan (4:00.80), and Murphy (4:10.20).

Student – Athletes Honor Roll

Liam Murphy, Men’s Cross Country and Track who had a successful season in cross country and track. In the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Murphy brought home the individual title covering the 10k course in 29:52.6. In the Big East meet he ran a time of 23:28 for third place. Murphy excelled in the outdoor track championship season as well.

During the indoor season Murphy earned the title of Big East Champion in the 3000 Meters in 7:55.53, and as a member of the Distance Medley Relay team.

He was the anchor runner on the 4 x Mile Relay team at the Penn Relays that took home a Championship of America Wheel. At the conference championships Murphy brought home gold medals in the 5000 Meters running a personal-best 13:43.32. The Villanova runners finished one-two-three in the event. He ran the third leg on the 4 x 800 Meter Relay team that finished first.

The season ended for Murphy at the NCAA Outdoor Championships when he ran in the final of the 1500 Meters. The junior was the fastest qualifier as he had the best time of East Region final (national quarterfinal heat) with a time of 3:48.35. Murphy made the final field, qualifying with his second-best personal time of 3:39.82. He finished 11th running in the final posting a time of 3:45.72, to earn a spot as a second-team All-American.

Sydney Pappas, Women’s Lacrosse who was named a Big East Co-Attacker of the Year. Pappas earned conference first-team honors as well. She led the team in points with 64 tallying a team-best 52 goals to go along with 11 assists. Pappas has scored 3 or more goals in 11 of the 17 games in which she played.

Matt Campbell, Men’s Lacrosse who was named the Big East Midfielder of the Year, his first Big East postseason award. He is a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award. Campbell leads Nova with 62 points, tied for 6th place for most points in a single season in program-history. He has a team-high 25 assists and netted 37 goals which ranks second on the team. His average of 4.13 points per game is second in the Big East.

Tess Cites, Softball who is the Big East Softball Player of the Year, and is a unanimous first team selection. The junior outfielder led Villanova with a .474 batting average in the conference. She has a team-best 27 runs and 57 total bases in league games. Overall, Cites batted .378 with 45 runs and 112 total bases, all team-leads, and hit 7 home runs. Cites is a Second-Team NFCA All-Mideast selection. Villanova finished as the Big East runner-up. Infielder Ava Franz also made Big East first team.

Peter Weaver, Golf who is First-Team All Big East and is the third ranked golfer in the conference, and is a second-team All-Region selection. He broke his own team record for best-team scoring average which stood at 71.91. He established season-bests in birdies (109), par or better rounds (14), rounds played (33) in which Weaver posted counting scores in each one. The junior placed fifth at the Big East Championship with a one-over 217. Weaver has the all-time records at Villanova in low-36 total at 133 and 54 hole score at 206. His 65 at the Wildcat Spring is the second-lowest round in the program. The Missouri native led the team in scoring average, wins, birdies, and par or better rounds.

Ryan Pamer, Golf who is the only Villanovan to be the first Big East Rookie of the Year on the Main Line. He had two five-under rounds in this season, the first-time a Villanova golfer did that. The Ohio native ranked third in low rounds shooting a 66 at the Golden Horseshoe. He had 88 birdies and was fourth on the team with 29 scoring rounds.

Malik Cunningham, Men’s Track and Field who became the first All-American in the triple jump for Villanova. It was his collegiate-best jump of 16.17 meters in the event to earn him seventh-place in the event giving the Villanova team two points in the National Championships (only 27 teams registered scores in the Men’s Championship). It was the best national meet finish by a Villanova jumper in 44 years when Nate Cooper won the event in 1979. Cunningham set his mark on his third attempt in the final round. This season Cunningham won his fourth Big East title, the second outdoors, and was second at the Penn Relays. He earned his spot in the NCAA Finals by placing seventh in the East Regional.

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