‘Nova set to start new streak

Kaitlin Santanna

It took 16 opponents, a top-ten ranked team and over 106 minutes of play to end the Villanova women’s soccer team’s record-breaking unbeaten streak. The Wildcats lost their first game of the season when they fell to No. 7 West Virginia in double overtime. The loss didn’t cause the squad to change their winning ways, however, as they posted a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

Villanova opened their weekend away from home in West Virginia on Friday evening. Both teams generated a plethora of prime scoring chances, but both goaltenders were up to the task. Villanova racked up 14 shots on goal, eight of which occurred in the first half, while West Virginia put up 19 shots of its own. The Mountaineers’ game-winning goal did not come until seven minutes into the second overtime period. Kelsey Fowler slid a shot through a jumble of players in front of the net for her second goal of the season. The goal was only the third that Villanova has allowed all season, creating a scoring margin of 27-3 throughout the season. Through Friday’s game, Villanova goalkeeper Jillian Loyden sported a 0.18 goals-against average along with a .959 save percentage for the year.

The defeat ended Villanova’s 15-game unbeaten streak, which marked a new women’s soccer program record. The run is four games longer than the 2002 team’s streak.

Refusing to be hampered by the loss, the Wildcats came out victorious against their next opponent. Freshman Jessica Carnevale recorded her first two collegiate goals in a victory over Pittsburgh at Founder’s Field. With the victory, the Wildcats are now within one win of tying a Villanova single-season record of 15 wins.

Following an uncharacteristically weak first 45 minutes, Villanova sported a youthful second half line-up consisting of six freshmen and sophomores. The addition of fresh troops provided the perfect tweak in chemistry, for Carnevale’s goal came 23 seconds into the half. In a rush started by sophomore Ali Foley, Kristen Verbit passed the ball to Carnevale for the game’s first tally.

Carnevale’s second goal would come 25 minutes later. After a failed Panther clearing attempt, junior Kayce Blandford passed to the open Carnevale finished skillfully.

The Wildcat defense was again in top form, holding Pittsburgh to only five shots throughout the match en route to securing their 14th shutout of the season. Loyden anchored the defensive effort for the first 86 minutes of the game before Leann Kania relieved her of her efforts. After the match against Pittsburgh, Loyden has posted 10 shutouts and has collaborated on four others.

After playing away from home for the past two weeks, Villanova returns to the West Campus Soccer Complex tomorrow to play their final two games of the historic 2006 season. The ‘Cats first host the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. before finishing off the season versus DePaul at 1 p.m. on Sunday.