Sports Roundup: Curtis sets course record, wins Big East

Michael Zipf

Cross country phenom senior Bobby Curtis set his third course record this season when he was first to cross the finish line, clinching the 2007 Big East Invitational this weekend in his hometown of Louisville. Curtis led his team to a sixth-place finish, clocking an astounding 23:08.85 on the 8K course at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park.

“At first I was apprehensive about Bobby running in his hometown,” said Villanova Head Coach Marcus O’Sullivan in an interview with “However, he remained poised and really displayed a terrific performance today.”

The Wildcats finished sixth with 125 points behind the Big East teams Syracuse with 103 points, Notre Dame with 93 points, Providence with 74 points, Georgetown with 60 points and Louisville, who clinched the title with 55 points.

‘Nova senior Michael Kerrigan finished strong for the ‘Cats, placing 15th overall and clocking in with a time of 24:14.65. Junior Bobby Papzian was the third Wildcat to cross the finish line with a time of 24:37.60, finishing 27th overall.

The women’s cross country team finished fifth at the Big East Conference Championship last Saturday.

Freshman Sheila Reid finished seventh overall, clocking in with a time of 20:53.40. Reid was followed by senior Akilah Vargas, who crossed the finish line 22nd with a time of 21:27.30. The third ‘Cat to finish was freshman Callie Hogan, who ran a time of 21:31.40 and ranked 24th.

The West Virginia Mountaineers clinched first place with a total of 77 points. The Mountaineers were followed by Providence with 87, Georgetown with 92 and Syracuse with 119.

The ‘Cats will lace up the running shoes again on Nov. 10 when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to compete in the NCAA Regionals. — K.M.

Men’s Soccer: ‘Cats headed to Big East tournament

Trying to snap a four-game losing streak and prevent a late-season collapse from costing it a shot at the Big East playoffs, the men’s soccer team recognized the importance of its matchups against Syracuse and Cincinnati this past week. The Wildcats were able to end their four-game skid with a crucial 3-2 victory over Syracuse but fell short against the Bearcats in a 1-0 defeat in double overtime. Ultimately, the Wildcats played some their best soccer all season and were able to clinch a berth in the Big East Tournament.

Heading into their matchup against Syracuse, the Wildcats understood the magnitude of the match and demonstrated a newfound resurgence that propelled them to a 3-2 comeback victory. Sophomore Mike Seamon led the Villanova attack, recording three second-half goals to lead the ‘Case past a gritty Syracuse team. As in their previous four contests, the Wildcats struggled to capitalize on early opportunities and surrendered the game’s first goal. Syracuse forward Hansen Woodruff notched his ninth goal of the season at the 38th minute of the first half to give ‘Cuse a 1-0 lead. Syracuse would continue to dominate the first half, holding a 10-3 advantage in shots.

Even though the Wildcats were faced with a 1-0 deficit, they appeared unfazed by their inability to capitalize on their first-half chances and opened up the second half with an offensive furry.

“We played some of our best soccer all year during the second half, especially in terms of ball movement,” junior co-captain Joe Taylor said.

Seamon connected off a pass from fellow sophomore Victor Faustino to even the match five minutes into the second half. Eighteen seconds later, Seamon struck again, registering his second goal off assists from Taylor and senior Mike Del Guercio. However, the Wildcats 2-1 lead quickly vanished as the Orange converted on a corner kick opportunity minutes later to even the match at 2-2.

Needing a goal and a critical victory, the Wildcats turned again to Seamon, who capped his stellar performance with the game-winning goal at the 62-minute mark of the match to give the Wildcats a 3-2 victory. Seamon’s unassisted goal marked the first hat trick of his young career.

“This victory was huge for us,” said Taylor. “It lifted a huge weight off our shoulders. When you start to lose four games in row, it sometimes puts some doubts in your mind. This victory gave us some much needed confidence.”

Looking to build upon their thrilling victory over Syracuse, Villanova engaged in a defensive struggle against the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The first half ended in a scoreless tie with each team registering six shots. The Wildcats generated several offensive attacks during the first half, but the Bearcats backline was able to thwart Villanova’s opportunities.

“We took it to them for the first 60 minutes of the match, but unfortunately we were unable to capitalize on our opportunities,” Taylor said.

Cincinnati nearly connected on a game-winning goal at the end of regulation, generating three shots on goal, but was unable to put a ball past senior goaltender Jason Friel.

After one 10-minute overtime period, the game remained scoreless as both defenses continued to dominate the match. However just three minutes into the second overtime period, Cincinnati’s Amir Ikner ended the scoreless affair by heading a ball past Friel off a set corner kick pass from classmate Lionel Jackson to give the Bearcats a 1-0 victory. The victory snapped a four-game losing streaking for Cincinnati who, like Villanova, had endured a difficult stretch heading into the match.

Villanova wraps up its regular season at home against Big East foe Louisville on Nov. 3 and then will prepare for the Big East Tournament. — M.Z.

Field Hockey: Four-game losing streak snapped with win on Senior Day

The field hockey team finished its ’07 season with a 4-0 win over Robert Morris last weekend. The team first experienced two late-season losses last weekend against St. Joe’s 2-1, and against No. 2 Maryland 5-1. Despite ending its season early, the team finished with an overall record of 11-7, 3-3 in the Big East.

The loss against St. Joe’s was a tough one to swallow, especially after some tough performances on both the offensive and defensive ends. The ‘Cats scored first early in the first half and had momentum swinging their way. But ultimately the Hawks got the better of the Villanova defense and were able to slip two goals past goalkeeper Maura McCormick.

The only Villanova goal in the game came from senior Stephanie Campbell. After being awarded a penalty corner, Campbell received a pass from sophomore Emily Donaldson and junior Sam Coveleski and was able to fire a shot right into the box.

The other loss of the week came when Villanova traveled to Maryland. The Wildcats played a great game, and the score did not reflect the level of play ‘Nova turned in, with the game ending in a 5-1 loss. Freshman standout Lauren Wuzzardo scored the only Wildcat goal of the game.

On Senior Day, where the senior quartet was honored for the hard work and dedication they put in during their tenure at Villanova, the team beat Robert Morris on a glorious fall day that was perfect for playing field hockey. After seniors Campbell, Jenny Nelson, Megan Ryan and Catherine Somits were presented at the senior day ceremony, the team handled Robert Morris with a score of 4-0.

“The last couple weeks of our season were difficult,” senior midfielder Megan Ryan said. “We fell into a lull, and being able to end with a win was great.”

Wuzzardo scored the first goal for the Wildcats early in the first half. The next goal didn’t come until well after halftime, when sophomore Jenn Nazarethian scored on a pass from freshman Ally Smith. Freshman Sam Haas scored the third goal off a pass from junior Alison Boris. Campbell assisted the last goal of the game when she fired a pass to Haas, who squared and shot the ball into the box.

The seniors leave Villanova after compiling a career record of 50-28. They helped Villanova rank in the Top 25 this season.

“It was disappointing to not have made the Big East tournament this season, but we ended on a positive note,” Ryan said. “The win on Senior Day was a nice way to end our four years here.” — A.V.

Volleyball: Cherkez, Sellers make it Senior Day to remember with shutout win over Georgetown

The volleyball team competed in two Big East matchups this weekend. On Saturday, despite being up 2-1 going into the fourth game, Villanova lost by a score of 3-2 to University of South Florida. Senior Alona Cherkez and sophomore Chelsea Graman each had double-doubles, with Cherkez having 23 kills and 17 digs and Graman posting 60 assists and 10 digs.

Sunday was Senior Day for the team, and departing seniors Cherkez and Kacy Sellers each had a record-setting game in the 3-0 sweep of Georgetown. Cherkez’s 16 kills gave her 550 total kills on the season, which is a new single-season record for Villanova. She is now 11 kills away from breaking the single-season Big East record. Sellers had a .533 attack percentage in the game, giving her career the top attack percentage in Villanova history at .301. The team improved to 15-10. — J.A.