Sports Briefs: ‘Cats take on USF in playoffs today

Kaitlin Santanna

By Jamie Augustinsky, Corey Marine and Kaitlin Santanna

Staff Reporters

A pair of 1-0 home victories last weekend lifted the women’s soccer team into the Big East postseason for the seventh year in a row. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a record of 10-3-6 (4-3-4 Big East), marking the ninth consecutive season with 10 or more victories and a winning record.

Villanova’s last two games of the season held great importance for the squad’s postseason hopes. Entering last Friday’s matchup against Louisville, the Wildcats were tied for the last playoff spot in the Big East National Division. Louisville, who already clinched the second-place spot in the division, was a formidable opponent. The matchup pinned the two best defensive teams in the Big East against one other. It was not a surprise then that it took over 107 minutes for either team to score a goal.

The game’s only goal materialized out of a play starting from the opposite end of the field. Villanova goalkeeper Jillian Loyden started the play with a long clear. The ball found sophomore Kelly Eagan, who then passed to junior Erin Hardiman. The play was completed when Hardiman passed to sophomore Erin Byrnes to fire the ball past the Cardinal goalkeeper. Friday’s game marked the seventh time this season that the Wildcats went into overtime but the first that a decision was made. The previous six tries resulted in a tie.

The teams battled evenly throughout the game, with Villanova turning in its most impressive outing of the season at just the right time. The Wildcats held the advantage in shots 16-14, but Louisville took five corner kicks to Villanova’s one opportunity. In a strange turn of events, sophomore Molly Williams started the game in goal and made three saves for the ‘Cats in the game’s first 13 minutes before the usual goalie Loyden took her place in the net for the remainder of the contest.

After collecting a pivotal three points in the win over Louisville, Villanova entered their final game of the season Sunday afternoon against Cincinnati with much the same must-win situation. The team needed either a tie or a win to move on to compete in the Big East Championships. Although the match was as close on the scoreboard, the game’s lone goal came much earlier in the contest. The goal came when Cincinnati failed to clear the ball. Senior forward Stacia Hartung collected the ball and fired it into the back of the net in the 31st minute of play. The goal marked Hartung’s third game-winning goal of the season.

Villanova’s stellar defense was once again at its peak performance, thwarting all of the Bearcats’ scoring attempts. Villanova held a 17-8 shot advantage along with seven corner kick opportunities throughout the game. The match was the 11th time the Wildcats’ opponent held fewer than 10 shots in the game, the fourth time they did not allow a corner kick against them and the 13th shutout of the season. Loyden made two saves en route to tying her career-best 11th shutout of the season, matching her total from last season. Kayce Blandford was also credited with a save when Loyden left the net to unsuccessfully take the ball away from a Cincinnati forward. The Bearcats took a shot on goal, but luckily Blandford was there to make the save.

Villanova’s two wins earned the team six points in the standings and allowed them to clinch fourth place in the National Division. The Wildcats will now take on the fifth seed from the American Division, USF, this afternoon at home. The winner of the match will move on to the quarterfinals to play the No. 1 American Division team, West Virginia, on Sunday afternoon. — K.A.

Swimming and Diving:

Women’s team downs

UConn, Richmond

The women’s swimming and diving team hosted University of Connecticut and University of Richmond on Saturday and picked up two wins, defeating UConn by a score of 169-136 and beating Richmond 169-119.The men’s team played host to UConn and lost by a score of 196-94.

On the women’s side, sophomore Sarah Czar was a three-time winner, taking first place in both the 100- and 200-meter freestyle events and being part of the winning 400-meter freestyle relay team.

For the men, senior captain Joey Mechak earned a Big East-qualifying time for his swim in the 200-meter butterfly. The women’s team will be back in action on Nov. 9 when it hosts Rutgers, while both teams look forward to competing in the Maryland Terrapin Invitational from Nov. 15-17. — J.A.

Golf: Wildcats compete at Georgetown Hoya Invitational

Junior Doug Stadler led the Wildcats at the Georgetown Hoya Invitational, tying for 22nd out of 65 golfers while shooting for a score of 222 (+9). As a team, Villanova placed 11th out of 12 with a 54-hole score of 918.

Stadler was followed by sophomore Michael Gross, who ended the tournament with his collegiate best of 228 in a tie for 37th.

Freshman Colin List was ‘Nova’s top performer during the second day of the tournament with a score of 74 (+3) for the day. He finished the tournament at 42nd with a total score of 230.

Juniors Bill Gropp and Paul Sjoberg placed in a tie for 61st and 63rd place, respectively, with scores of 246 and 247. — C.M.

Rowing: ‘Nova earns spot in pair of ’08 competitions

The women’s rowing team competed last week at the Head of the Charles in Boston and clinched spots in two races next year.

The Wildcats placed fifth out of 52 in the eights and 10th out of 32 in the fours.

The eight was manned by seniors Katie Barzelatto, Kathleen O’Connell, Marissa Miraval and Jane Pancurak; junior Caitlin DeBarbie; and sophomores Katie Grasing, Jill Pietropaolo, Katherine Sutton and Brianna Ipjian.

The women in the four were junior Anamary Marquez, sophomores Lindsey Hamilton and Ashley Flanders, and freshmen Melissa Nicholson and Kathryn Harkins.

“This is one of the most prestigious and toughest events to get boats into,” Head Coach Jack St. Clair said. “The women were absolutely fantastic in both races, and I am extremely pleased with the performances of both crews.” — C.M.