WSOC: Wildcats defeat Hofstra to improve to 7-0

Kate McAvey

The women’s soccer team once again finds themselves victorious after winning the Penn Invitational, defeating both Penn and Hofstra by scores of 3-2. The wins earned the Wildcats the No. 19 spot in the NSCAA/Adidas Coaches’ Top 25 poll that was released Tuesday. The top 20 ranking is Villanova’s first national ranking of the ’08 season.

In similar fashion to the La Salle game last week, the Wildcats trailed by two and regained control in the latter portion of the opening game on Sept. 12 versus Penn. Villanova scored three goals to beat the Quakers and start the Penn Invitational on a strong note.

The first goal of the game came off Sarah Friedman’s free kick from the right side. ‘Nova goalie Molly Williams caught the shot, but the officials ruled that William’s momentum pushed her over the line, resulting in a goal for Penn. The Wildcats had outshot the Quakers 9-3 in the first half, but Penn netted two goals to lead at halftime. The second goal for the Quakers came early in the second period off a corner kick to give Penn the two-goal lead.

Freshman Kaitlin Ryan passed the ball to sophomore Rachel Schuyler, who was able to connect and put the ‘Cats on the board in the second half. After Schuyler’s goal, the Wildcats caught fire. With 15:59 remaining, Justine Wollner fed Ryan, who headed the ball between an oncoming defender and the goalie for the game-tying goal. The game winner consisted of this duo, as Wollner lifted the ball above two charging defenders to Ryan, who was able to slice a shot past the goalkeeper to give ‘Nova the 3-2 lead.

The team refused to lose, continuing its undefeated run by beating the Hofstra Pride on Sept. 14 by a familiar score of 3-2. The win allowed the girls to match the longest winning streak in Villanova history at seven games.

The Wildcats got on the board first with an assist from junior Erin Byrnes to Wollner, who blasted the ball into the net at the 11:30 mark to put the ‘Cats on the board. The Pride did not wait long to respond, scoring off a corner kick a mere four minutes later.

Although Villanova was outshot 8-7 in the first period, the team got another goal before the half. Junior Jessica Carnevale scored her first goal of the season with an assist from Schuyler.

The game got closer in the 68th minute, when Hofstra earned a penalty kick. Williams saved the initial shot, but Villanova could not clear it, and the Pride scored a goal off the crossbar.

The winning goal came with 1:19 remaining, when sophomore Amy Greco drilled the ball into the center of a crowded goal box. No Villanova players were able to take a clear shot, but a header by a Pride defender gave the Wildcats the goal.

For the third straight weekend, the Wildcats came back to campus as tournament champions. Ryan, Schuler, Williams and Wollner were named to the All-Tournament team.

Villanova’s debut in the Coaches’ poll was a result of their undefeated start to the fall season. After the victories at the Penn Invitational, the ‘Cats have started with a 7-0 record for the third time in the program’s history.

The last time the Wildcats made an appearance in the Coaches’ Poll was on Sept. 4, 2007. Although the team has been out of the rankings for a little over a year, Villanova has been included in the poll six of the last seven seasons. The last time the women’s soccer team was ranked in the Top 20 was four years ago, when the team was ranked No. 18.

Along with ranking in the national poll, the women’s soccer team also moved into a tie for second place out of 46 teams in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Besides Villanova, two other Big East teams are ranked in the NSCAA poll. These teams include Notre Dame (No. 1) and West Virginia (No. 14), two teams that the Wildcats will face in October.

Villanova looks to improve its No. 19 ranking when the Big East portion of the schedule starts this weekend. Conference play begins tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the West Campus Soccer complex as the team takes on the Georgetown Hoyas.

The Hoyas look to be one of Villanova’s biggest opponents this season. Georgetown is ranked No. 4 in the Mid-Atlantic Region and also recieved votes in this week’s Coaches’ Poll. Friday will mark the fourth year in a row that Villanova will open its conference play against Georgetown. The last time that the Wildcats squared off against the Hoyas on the pitch, Villanova came out on top 1-0.