DiBiase: Plenty of standouts in ‘Cats’ fall semester play

Justin Dibiase

The fall semester here at Villanova is coming to an end. Villanova has seen the re-emergence of some of its athletic programs as well as some outstanding individual performances.

Best Individual Male Season:

Bobby Curtis, Cross Country

This senior from Louisville, Ky., had a tremendous season, running at torrid paces throughout the fall. Curtis won four meets, including the Big East Championship in his hometown. The senior runner also set three new course records at different locales. Accolades for his amazing season included being named the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Region Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Curtis’ great season culminated a few weeks ago when he was honored as a NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country All-American.

Best Individual Female Season:

Jillian Loyden, Soccer

The ’07 season capped an incredible four-year run at Villanova for goalkeeper Loyden. She set Villanova records for shutouts, victories and minutes played in her career. In the ’07 campaign alone Loyden compiled a 0.52 goals against average and also shut out the opposition on 12 occasions. Loyden reached a new standard after being named Big East Goalkeeper of the Year for the third straight season. The accolades do not stop there. Loyden is also a candidate for the Hermann Trophy, which is given to the top female Division I college soccer player in the country.

Best Game: (Tie)

Villanova Football vs. Delaware

This game in mid-November had everything a football fan could ask for: rivalry, passion, defense and clutch performances. Delaware, ranked No. 9 at the time, easily handled the Villanova offense for most of the game. The Blue Hens led 10-3 in the fourth quarter when Villanova pulled out a fake punt run, which allowed Wildcat Matt Dicken to scamper 44 yards down to the Delaware 5-yard line and set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge from quarterback Chris Whitney. After an uncharacteristic 29-yard field goal miss from Delaware, Villanova kicker Joe Marcoux connected on two consecutive field goals to give Villanova the thrilling 16-10 upset win over Delaware.

Villanova Men’s Soccer vs. Duke

On Sept. 7, the men’s soccer team did the unthinkable. In the ultimate battle of David vs. Goliath, the Wildcats defeated the No. 1 team in the nation, the Duke Blue Devils, on Duke’s home turf in Durham, N.C. Villanova struck first with a goal from Mike Del Guercio in the 33rd minute of the game. The Wildcats’ defense and goalkeeper Jason Friel withstood a relentless Duke attack in order to preserve the improbable 1-0 shutout win. Duke outshot Villanova by a 25-4 margin throughout the wild game.

Best Team:

Women’s Soccer

Coming off a strong ’06 campaign that saw the Wildcats advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament, some might consider the outcome of the ’07 season a letdown for Villanova. Despite Villanova’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal loss to West Virginia, the Wildcats still had a great season. The team did not taste defeat until the 12th match of the season, and they boasted two all-conference first teamers in Loyden and sophomore defender Kelly Eagan. The successful season also extended Villanova’s streak of winning seasons to 11. The team also only allowed 11 goals throughout the entire season, tying a school record set by last year’s team.

Best Newcomer:

Lauren Wuzzardo, Field Hockey

It is not everyday that a freshman enters a Division I sports program and leads a team in scoring. However, Wuzzardo accomplished just that in her rookie season. The midfielder tallied 13 goals and added four assists throughout the year. Wuzzardo was named to the All-Big East Second Team and also was named to the 2007 All-Rookie Squad by womensfieldhockey.com. After leading Villanova to an 11-7 record in 2007, the future is bright for Wuzzardo and Wildcat field hockey.

Best Coaching Job:

Josh Steinbach

In a coach’s first season at a new school, a transition period is usually expected. So not much fuss was made when Villanova was picked to finished 10th in the Big East preseason coaches poll. Women’s volleyball Head Coach Steinbach has wasted little time dispelling any thoughts of a transition period, leading ‘Nova to 17 wins and a third-place finish in the Big East standings. Even more impressive is the fact that this is Steinbach’s first head coaching job at the college level after serving as an assistant coach on the Wright State volleyball team. He also coached two of his players, seniors Alona Cherkez and Kacy Sellers, to All-Big East First Team Honors.


Justin DiBiase is a junior civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]