Women’s Soccer: ‘Cats remain undefeated on the pitch

Kaitlin Santanna

Take a pair of shutout wins, a record-setting goalkeeper and an impenetrable defense. Add five different goal scorers. Shake well and enjoy the concoction that is the women’s soccer team.

The Wildcats continued their impressive fall season with two shutout wins against rivals last weekend. Villanova conquered Big East foe Georgetown in a tough 1-0 road victory last Friday. The ‘Cats returned home Sunday afternoon to capture a 4-0 win over University of Pennsylvania in their final non-conference game of the season.

Although Villanova came out unscathed, Georgetown was one of the toughest opponents the team has faced all season. The Wildcats had to endure an early offensive attack from the Hoyas and spent the majority of the opening minutes of play in their own defensive end. Villanova turned things around at the end of the first half, however, and had three corner kick opportunities in as many minutes. Despite the scoring opportunities on each side, the game went into the halftime break with the score knotted at zero.

The second half displayed the same excellent play from both sides. The Wildcats were the first to break onto the scoreboard with less than 18 minutes remaining in the match. After a corner kick by senior Kayce Blandford, sophomore Kelly Eagan was able to fire the ball on goal through a scramble of players. The ball found the back of the net to give Villanova a 1-0 lead.

Neither team slowed its pace after the Villanova goal. Georgetown continued applying offensive pressure, but the Wildcat defense kept the enemy at bay and went on to win the contest with a 1-0 score.

Although Villanova has posted seven shutouts in eight games, the victory over Georgetown will be one that senior goalkeeper Jillian Loyden is not likely to forget. The 1-0 win marked Loyden’s 30th career shutout victory, a new school record. Along with setting the record, Loyden also extended her current shutout streak to 326 minutes through the weekend’s play.

Next up for Villanova was local rival UPenn. The strong offensive performance saw goals and assists from seven different players, with eight of the 14 points recorded by seniors. The game’s first goal came from a trio of seniors. The play started with Stacia Hartung and Kaley Guthrie passing the ball through the UPenn defense. Hartung then made a pass to Nikki Mabery, who knocked the ball into the net for the game’s first tally just 9:32 into the match.

While the Quaker defense did its best to hold off Villanova’s offensive attack, the Wildcats overthrew the defensive barricade and broke the scoring open in the second half. Freshman Justine Wollner started the second-half scoring with her third career goal. After assisting Wollner’s tally, junior Erin Hardiman netted one of her own in the 74th minute of play. Mabery sent the ball across the front of the net, and Hardiman was in perfect position to head the ball past sophomore Quaker goalkeeper Cailly Carroll.

Villanova’s final goal of the weekend was perhaps the most impressive of the set. The play originated from the opposite end of the field off a long punt from Loyden. Sophomore midfielder Jessica Carnevale received the kick before passing the ball off to Hartung, who then redirected the ball into the left side of the net for the fourth goal of the game and of her career. Loyden was credited with an assist on the play.

Along with notching her second career assist, Loyden continued to build on her record-setting shutout count. Loyden made four saves in the match en route to posting her 31st career shutout.

The Wildcats now get into the most important part of their schedule, with every remaining game against a fellow Big East conference team. Villanova starts this difficult part of the season tomorrow afternoon against Rutgers. The match is slated to begin at 4 p.m. at home in the West Campus Soccer Complex.


‘Nova by the numbers

16-2: Goal differential this season

3.0: Goals per game (No. 1 in Big East)

12: Points for Nikki Mabery (leads Wildcats)

37: Career shutouts for Jillian Loyden (pictured left)