Wildcats off to best start ever

Kaitlin Santana

What do you get when you combine a team that has produced over 496 minutes (and counting) of continuous shutout soccer and a 19-1 goal advantage over their opponents through eight games (yes, you read correctly, only one goal allowed in eight games)? Not to mention this is the same team has had at least two players selected each week for the Big East weekly awards including a goalie who has been named the Big East Conference Goalkeeper of the Week for three consecutive and an honorable mention the fourth? Give up?

You are left with the record-breaking Villanova women’s soccer team.

After defeating fellow Big East conference member Georgetown Friday afternoon, the women’s soccer team improved its record to 8-0. This achievement marks the best start in program history, passing the former record of 7-0 set in 2003.

Villanova took the same mindset it has been carrying all season into the game against the Hoyas at the West Campus Soccer Complex. The ‘Cats came out firing, creating several close scoring attempts within the first 10 minutes of the match.

The game’s only scoring chances came four minutes apart in the first half, off the foot of the same player. In an offensive rush 27 minutes into the game, Erin Hardiman connected with Kaley Guthrie, who crossed the ball into a sea of players in the box. Although initially saved by the Georgetown goalkeeper, she was not able to prevent the ball from rebounding back into the gathering of players in front of the goal. Following several deflections within the box, the team’s leading scorer Nikki Mabery gained control of the ball en route to netting her eighth goal of the season.

A similar play resulted in the second Wildcat goal. Corner kick specialist Kayce Blandford worked her magic in the 31st minute of the match. After bouncing off bodies within the box, the ball found its place once again at the feet of Mabery, who one-timed it for her second goal of the game.

Although trailing by two goals after halftime, Georgetown did not go down without a fight. The Hoyas created three corner kick opportunities in a row with 34 minutes remaining and drew a penalty kick less than four minutes later. However, these offensive attempts were not enough to break through the seemingly impenetrable Wildcat defense. They outshot the Hoyas 12-6 on the game, and goalkeeper Jillian Loyden made two saves on the way to posting her fourth solo shutout of the season.

Villanova’s efforts were once again recognized by the Big East Weekly awards, released on Monday afternoon. Loyden’s shutout performance on earned her the title of Goalkeeper of the Week, while freshman Kelly Eagan and junior Mabery were members of the honor roll.

The Wildcats return to Big East Conference action this weekend. Villanova takes on the Seton Hall Pirates at home tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. before traveling to New Jersey to play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 6 p.m. Sunday evening.

Tomorrow’s home game will be played at the West Campus Soccer Complex.