Women’s soccer remains undefeated

Kate McAvey

The women’s soccer team remains undefeated after winning the Villanova Classic in an action-packed weekend for the Wildcats. A double-overtime goal on Sept. 5 to stun San Diego State and a late-game comeback on Sept. 6 to defeat La Salle brought home the victory for the ‘Cats.

A double-overtime header by freshman Kaitlin Ryan gave the ‘Cats the win in the first game against San Diego State. The girls started the game on top with a goal at the 24:12 mark by sophomore Justine Wollner, assisted by senior Erin Hardiman. The ‘Cats kept the lead until San Diego State came out strong in the second half with two goals in less than 12 minutes, and the Wildcats found themselves on the losing side of the scoreboard for the first time all year.

The team did not let this deficit last long, though. Freshman Megan Verduer scored her third goal of the season with 17 minutes left in regulation to tie the score at two. As the clock clicked up to send the game into overtime, the ‘Cats knew that they had to come out strong. The team outshot San Diego State 5-0 in overtime, with a 19-11 edge overall. Neither team was able to break the tie in the first round of overtime, but the ‘Cats did not wait long to attack as the clock started running in the second overtime period.

Sophomore Rachel Shulyer unleashed a hard strike on the net just minutes into play. The ball rebounded off the crossbar and ricocheted to Ryan, who perfectly headed the ball into the net for her first collegiate goal to give the ‘Cats the dramatic victory.

Ryan totaled three points for ‘Nova during the game, after her assist on the tying goal during the second half and clutch header to win the game. Guarding the goal for the Wildcats, junior Molly Williams recorded five saves, three coming in the first and two more in the second period of play.

The second game of the tournament was an example of perservance. The last five games between La Salle and Villanova have each been decided by one goal, so it was inevitable that this game would be a close one.

The game started in the Explorers’ favor. Twenty-six minutes into play, Williams came out of the net and attempted to beat out La Salle forward Dana O’Brien for a stray ball. Williams made it to the stray ball, but O’Brien was able to sneak in a shot as the ball went past Williams into a stranded net.

The second bad luck goal arrived in the 43rd minute. The Wildcats were attempting to clear out their territory when the ball was misdirected back past Williams into the net for LaSalle. The Wildcats remained down by two until the middle of the second half when they finally found their momentum and scored three times in less than 26 minutes.

Junior Grace Hawkins got the ball rolling with a long blast into the goal at the 62:12 mark. With 7:02 remaining, Ryan was able to beat La Salle goalie Melissa Sanger and tie the game to keep Villanova alive. With the game tied at two a piece, Hardiman, who assisted in all three goals scored for the ‘Cats, set up a play for Hawkins. Hawkins fired the ball, which bounced off the crossbar and into the net, causing a Wildcat celebration.

Villanova outshot the Explorers 24-11 for the entire game, and even though the ‘Cats were down at the half, they had outshot La Salle 10-4 in the opening period.

Ryan was named offensive MVP of the tournament, while junior Kelly Eagan was named defensive MVP. Hardiman and Wollner were named to the All-Tournament Team after impressive performances.

This victory broke Villanova’s streak of losses or ties in games when trailing at halftime. The ‘Cats have now won 11 consecutive regular season tournament games and are 16-3-1 in tournament games since 1993. With a record of 34-2-3 against other Big 5 teams and 15-1 to La Salle, Villanova is enjoying great success locally.

The ‘Cats will lace up their cleats again as they try to extend their undefeated season as they head to the Penn Invitational tomorrow and Sunday. The game begins tomorrow when Villanova takes on Penn at 7:30 p.m.