Women’s Soccer: Wildcats play Pirates, Knights to draws

Kaitlin Santanna

After a pair of weekend games featuring strong defensive efforts and offensive stalemates, the women’s soccer team (8-0-3, 1-0-2 Big East) keeps its undefeated record intact. The first game of the weekend set began with a scoreless tie at home Friday afternoon against No. 24 Rutgers. The Wildcats then began their longest road trip of the season Sunday against Seton Hall. The final score was again tied, though each team produced a goal in the match to result in a 1-1 score. After the weekend games, Villanova has started the season unbeaten for the second straight year in one of only two streaks in program history.

Despite great scoring opportunities on both sides Friday against Rutgers, each side’s goalkeeper put out an impressive performance. Wildcat ‘keeper Jillian Loyden made five saves in the tie and posted her 32nd career shutout. Loyden was supported by the same dominating defensive line that has been hindering the opposition’s offense all season long. Sophomore Kelly Eagan and junior Laura Sylvester led the defensive effort, with the former moving up and helping out in the attacking zone as well. Eagan’s stellar play contributed to her placement on the Big East’s weekly honor roll for this week.

The match between the Wildcats and the Scarlet Knights was even all around, not just on the scoreboard. Although Villanova held the advantage in shots by a 12-11 margin, Rutgers received six corner kicks to Villanova’s five, including three in the overtime periods. The match became much more physical as time passed, evident by the 31 penalties called in the game.

After the Friday afternoon game at home, Villanova set off on its five-game, two-week road trip. First stop for the Wildcats was their shortest commute of the trip, taking them to New Jersey to take on Seton Hall University. Although holding the offensive advantage throughout a majority of the game, the Wildcats were forced to settle for their second tie of the weekend with a 1-1 score.

The first half brought even play from both sides, and the two teams went into the mid-game break tied at zero. Seton Hall and Villanova were not satisfied with the lack of goals, and each squad came out firing in the second half. Seton Hall found the scoreboard first just seven minutes into the half, marking the first time in four games that Villanova’s opponent scored first. The tally was only the third goal allowed by the Wildcats in the season’s first 11 games. Despite being down a goal, the ‘Cats did not let up their offensive attack and tied the game just 42 seconds later. Senior Nikki Mabery took possession of the ball following the Pirates’ goal, firing a hard shot on goal. Her shot careened off the Seton Hall goaltender and found its way to senior Kaley Guthrie, who launched the ball into the corner of the net to tie the game.

Villanova held a 17-12 shot surplus, with a 13-9 advantage after the Pirate goal. The Wildcats also had an incredible 15 corner kicks, one away from tying a Big East record in that category. Although the game remained tied for the remainder of the game, the teams traded scoring chances, and the field turf of Seton Hall created a rapid pace throughout the match. Loyden was forced to make five of her six saves after the game was notched at 1-1.

Sunday’s matchup was the first time Seton Hall has scored against Villanova since 2002. Seton Hall’s goal also marked the end of Villanova’s 487:14 shutout streak.

The squad travels to Milwaukee, Wis., to take on Marquette University tomorrow night. Villanova is then slated to take on the University of South Florida Sunday at 1 p.m.