Women’s soccer falls in NCAA tourney

Nayib Moran

The women’s soccer team (11-6-5) lost 1-0 to Washington State (14-5-2) last Friday at the University of Maryland.

The squad made its sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament over the last nine years and concluded its 11th consecutive season with a winning record and at least 10 victories.

As the referee whistled the start of the first-round match, the Cougars were the favorites. They had scored 41 goals in 20 games coming to Friday night’s contest.

It was the ‘Cats’ offense that set the bar in the early stages of the game, with shots by senior midfielder Erin Byrnes, junior forward Rachel Schuyler, sophomore forwards Megan Verdeur and Katie Ryan and Big East Rookie of the Year, freshman forward Heidi Sabatura.

By the closing stages of the first half, the Wildcat defense, led by defenders sophomore Erin Ryan, junior Patty Tierney and freshmen Alexa Carugati and Carly Edgcomb allowed only four Cougar shots and gave senior goalkeeper Molly Williams a relaxed half. Williams finished this season as the leader in saves in the Big East Conference.

In the second half, once again had the Wildcats’ offense was on top of Washington State’s defenders. By the 63rd minute of the second half, the Wildcats had five shots while the Cougars only had two.

Eleven minutes later, Washington State performed its best offensive play of the game and made sure the ball met in the net. Thanks to a header by redshirt junior midfielder Mallory Fox, the Cougars in the lead with 16 minutes left on the clock. After scoring, the Washington State players stationed themselves in their territory as Villanova kept fighting to create a scoring opportunity.

Both Sabatura and senior forward Grace Hawkins had shots stopped by Cougar junior goalkeeper Meghan Berlingo in the last minutes of the game. The ‘Cats finished the match with 16 shots, as opposed to the nine Washington State created. The Cougars, who averaged two goals per game, were only held to only five shots on goal throughout the entire game.

As the referee whistled for the conclusion of the game, six seniors ended their collegiate career; they take with them a four-year record of 49-21-14 and helped lead the Wildcats to a NCAA tournament every year since 2006.

In his second season as ‘Nova’s head coach, John Byford has taken the team to the national tourney and, with a strong core of young talent led by the likes of Sabatura, Edgecomb, Ryan and company, you should expect this Wildcat squad to keep bringing joy to the ‘Nova Nation for the rest of their careers.