Women’s Soccer: Lehigh, Temple no match for red hot Wildcats



Katilin Santanna

The women’s soccer team kept its undefeated season alive after playing in two games last weekend.

Villanova’s first weekend competition came against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks Friday in Bethlehem, Pa. The game saw even play throughout the first half. Despite good scoring opportunities on both sides, the score was held at 0-0 entering the mid-game break.

For the first time in the season, the Wildcats were scored on first. Lehigh’s Jen Fetsick put the Hawks on the scoreboard with under 10 minutes in the second half. Villanova had reason for concern, trailing 1-0 in the game. Since 1997, the team has a record of 13-55-8 when giving up the first goal, including losing the last five games, while holding the staggering record of 91-0-5 since 1999 when scoring first. The ‘Cats were determined not to fall into a losing pattern again.

After Lehigh scored, Villanova began pouring on the offensive pressure. Finally, with less than six minutes remaining in the game, the Wildcats’ determination paid off. Senior Nikki Mabery fired a shot into the goal off of a corner kick. After the initial save, freshman Rachel Schuyler settled the ball and found the back of the net to tie the game at one.

Although Villanova held a 4-1 shot advantage through the two overtime periods, neither team was able to add to their score. Senior goalkeeper Jillian Loyden made four saves in the contest and only let in her second goal of the season.

After the tie game against Lehigh, Villanova’s next opponent was Temple University. The ‘Cats took control of the game early and never looked back. Villanova held a 20-3 shot advantage throughout the game and gave the Owls little scoring opportunities of their own.

Despite a plethora of offensive chances, the two teams went into the half scoreless. In the 10th minute of the second half, junior Erin Hardiman intercepted a Temple throw-in. Hardiman then directed the intercepted ball onto goal. Although the Owl defender deflected the ball away, junior Nicole Coia finished the play and netted her first goal of the season.

Loyden only had to make one save on the day en route to securing her place in the Villanova record books. By posting her 29th career solo shutout, Loyden tied Villanova’s all-time shutout record. The previous record was held by Chrissy Dolan, Class of ’03. The Wildcats have shutout 20 of the last 29 opponents since the beginning of the ’06 season.

For the first time in five years, a Wildcat was named as the offensive Big East player of the week. After posting three goals and three assists in an 11-0 win over St. Peter’s on Sept. 11, sophomore Erin Byrnes was awarded the weekly honor. The ‘Cats have had at least one player named the Big East player of the week in each of the first three weeks of the season.

Villanova starts its conference schedule Friday afternoon at Georgetown. The game is slated to begin at 3 p.m. The Wildcats then return home Sunday for a 3 p.m. non-conference game against UPenn.