Women’s soccer wins 1 of 2 games

Jon Albert

The women’s soccer team could only salvage a split of their two games at this weekend’s Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., but they notched their first victory over a ranked team since 2006, defeating No. 16 Wake Forest 3-2 in double overtime.

The Wildcats were one of four teams to play in the invitational, hosted by the Virginia Tech Hokies. The ‘Cats fell to the Hokies in the opening game of the weekend, losing 4-1.

The Wildcats took the field by storm in Friday night’s opening game, when junior defender Candace Ruff notched her first career Villanova goal in the seventh minute.

This is the first year at ‘Nova for Ruff, who transferred to the Main Line after two years at the University of Missouri. Freshman defender and fellow newcomer Taylor Houck sent the only Wildcat corner kick of the game toward the net, and Ruff was able to emerge from the crowd of players to head the ball in.

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, that would be their only goal of the game, and a Hokie onslaught left the team stuck in a 4-1 hole that they could not overcome.

The results were much better on Sunday afternoon, when the Wildcats were able to stay composed and earn the victory after relinquishing two leads, one coming in the 89th minute.

Like their first game, the ‘Cats got on the board first with a 10th-minute goal from junior forward Katie Ryan.

The Demon Deacons of Wake Forest would not go quietly, tying the game at one just 19 minutes later.

The ‘Cats were the beneficiaries of some sloppy defending midway through the second half, when a header from junior forward Megan Verdeur bounced off of a Demon Deacon defender and was ruled an own goal.

With the game in the final minutes and victory seemingly assured for the Wildcats, Wake Forest responded with an 89th minute corner kick turned equalizer that sent the game into overtime.

After a scoreless first frame, Verdeur received the ball in the box and dribbled close enough to the keeper to put the ball in the net from short range in the 103rd minute.

The double-overtime goal was Verdeur’s first of the season. Freshman goalie Jami Kranich made five saves to record her third victory of the season.

Junior midfielder Katy Nagy spoke of the importance of snapping the ‘Cats’ losing streak against such a tough opponent.

“It was huge,” Nagy said. “We really needed it to turn our season around. We’ve been through a lot so far. After five season-ending injuries and a few rough losses, this win helped us prove to ourselves that we are a strong enough team and that we can accomplish anything.”

The team’s next game is tomorrow afternoon against Monmouth University at 4 p.m. at the soccer complex. That game is the opener of the Villanova Classic, which will also pit the team against the University of Charlotte at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning.

After this weekend, the team starts Big East conference play, and the ‘Cats know that some of their toughest games are yet to come.

The team’s first Big East game is Friday, Sept. 24 on the road against Seton Hall.

“There are no easy games in the Big East,” Nagy said. “Every game is a battle from start to finish, but we have the ability to do really well, and now we have the confidence. Last year, we lost in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament and the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year, we can make it further if we keep playing the way we did on Sunday.”