Women’s Soccer: ‘Nova returns home, beats Robert Morris 3-1



Kaitlin Santanna

The women’s soccer team successfully completed a tough two-game schedule this weekend. After battling through a scoreless tie against Princeton Friday evening, the Wildcats came back to dominate Robert Morris in a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon. Goalkeeper Jillian Loyden led the defense, and Nikki Mabery scored all of the weekend’s goals.

Villanova opened the weekend with one of the most anticipated and challenging games of the season against Princeton University. Both programs are known for their strong defensive play, and the resulting score of 0-0 proved history to be correct. Princeton opened the game attacking on offense but was unsuccessful against the Villanova defense. Loyden was called on to come up big early in the match and had to make two saves in the opening period.

After withstanding the early pressure from the Tigers, Villanova came up with some scoring chances of its own. With 30 seconds left in the first half, the Wildcats were awarded a penalty kick. Mabery took the free shot on goal but was unsuccessful.

Both teams traded scoring chances throughout the remainder of the game but were unable to get one past either goalkeepers. The shutout marked Loyden’s 28th of her career, and brings her within one of tying the school’s all-time shutout record.

Following the scoring drought in Princeton, Villanova came out firing against Robert Morris Sunday at home. The Wildcats outshot Robert Morris 31-8 throughout the game and dominated in the corner kick category by a 19-0 margin. Mabery scored the first two goals of her hat trick within 24 seconds of each other. In the 20th minute of the game, Mabery found the top right corner off a pass from fellow senior Melissa Murowski to record the first Villanova goal of the weekend. Right after the following faceoff, the Wildcats took control of the ball and settled it in front of the net. Kayce Blandford delivered the ball to Nicole Coia, who then passed it to Mabery for the second goal of the half.

Although Villanova dominated Robert Morris in the numbers, it was the Colonials that scored the first goal of the season against the ‘Cats. The goal came in the 27th minute and broke a shutout streak of over 300 minutes.

The Wildcats’ offensive prowess continued through the second half. Just over eight minutes into the half, freshman Justine Wollner crossed the ball in front of the net. Mabery headed the ball into the back of the net to complete her hat trick. The senior’s only other career hat trick was recorded last season against this same Robert Morris squad.

Loyden made three saves before sophomore Molly Williams came in the game to relieve the starting goaltender. Williams posted one save in her 13 minutes of play.

Villanova, which has outscored its opponents 20-1 this season, will next travel to Bethlehem, Pa., for a 5:30 p.m. match against Lehigh University. The team will return home Sunday for an afternoon game versus Temple. The game will start at 1 p.m.