Women’s soccer ties with Scarlet Knights

Brendan Bianowicz

The Villanova Women’s soccer team tied the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-1 Sunday evening at Yurcak Field as Villanova (8-1-2, 1-1-1 Big East) met No. 17 Rutgers (8-1-2, 2-0-1 Big East) in its first matchup this season against a ranked opponent. Going into Sunday’s match, each team had a player tied for the league lead in goals scored, but defense prevailed in an impressive showing from the Wildcat team that continues to improve with each passing week.

The Wildcat women came into Piscataway on Sunday with a win over Seton Hall and their first win in the Big East Conference in hand. Having lost last year’s match with Rutgers 5-0 at Yurcak Field, the ‘Cats looked to illustrate the improvements made since last year’s loss and stay in contention early in the conference season.

In the first half, the Wildcats delivered and gave themselves a crucial early lead. In the 25th minute, junior midfielder Rachel Schuyler scored her first goal of the season and the 4th goal allowed by Rutgers’ defense, the number one defense in the Big East. Schuyler’s score was also the first goal Rutgers has allowed in the first half of a match, holding opponents scoreless for the previous 474:22 first half minutes. The goal was the result of an unsettled scramble in front of the net, collected by freshman forward Heidi Sabatura and passed back to Schuyler who placed a shot just below the crossbar, out of reach of Rutgers goalkeeper Erin Guthrie.

Villanova senior goalkeeper Molly Williams saved nine shots from the high-powered Rutgers offense. Williams and the ‘Nova defense held the Rutgers offense, led by leading scorer Ashley Jones, to one goal despite being outshot 20-11. After two full halves, the score was deadlocked and the two defenses had established control of the match. In 30 minutes of overtime play, there was not one shot on net by either team.

In their first 11 games, the Wildcats have taken the lead in the first half 10 times and are undefeated in games this season in which they were first to score.

Rutgers forward Karla Schacher contributed her third goal of the season in the 54th minute to even the score for the Scarlet Knights. Schacher floated the ball above Williams’ outstretched arms toward the top right of the net for the score.

Villanova’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Katie Ryan, led all players with four shots in the game. Ryan and Rutgers’ Jones are tied for the Big East lead in goals scored with a total of eight. Ryan is also the leading point scorer in the Big East with 20, followed closely by Jones, 19, and freshman Sabatura, with 16.

Rutgers senior goalkeeper Erin Guthrie had seven saves, including four in the first half.

The Wildcats continue a stretch of challenging road games tomorrow when they travel to Connecticut for a 7 p.m. match.