‘Cats still perfect after seven

Kaitlin Santanna

By Kaitlin SantannaStaff Reporter

The women’s soccer team kept their perfect season alive last weekend at the Navy Classic, held in Annapolis, Md. After the tournament, the Wildcats are 7-0 for the season, tying the best seasonal start in team history.

Villanova’s first opponent came Friday afternoon against the Butler University Bulldogs. The first goal of the game came off a familiar Villanova foot. After Lindsey Finnegan was hauled down for a penalty inside the box, Nikki Mabery converted on the penalty shot midway through the first half. Mabery’s goal was her seventh of the season, which ties her season high from last year.

Mabery’s goal created a swing of offensive momentum, which the Wildcats carried into the second half. Finnegan had a part in all three goals scored in the game. After drawing the penalty kick at the beginning of the game, she notched a goal of her own, heading the ball into the back of the net off a corner kick taken by Kayce Blandford 16 minutes into the half. Finnegan picked up an assist off a goal scored by junior Kaley Guthrie just four minutes later. The goal and assist were each Finnegan’s second of the year. Goaltender Jillian Loyden made two saves in the first 77 minutes before being relieved by sophomore Leann Kania in the second half.

The undefeated Villanova team met its toughest opponent of the season so far on the final day of the Navy Classic. The Wildcats pulled out a thrilling double overtime victory over the Louisiana State Tigers Sunday afternoon. The game marked the first time that a Villanovan women’s soccer team played a team in the Southeast Conference.

The two teams battled for much of the game in the midfield, fighting for possession of the ball. Villanova’s game winning goal was born out of a struggle from three players off the bench. Although she played no time in regulation, sophomore Nicole Coia entered the game during the overtime minutes. Coia won the ball in the midfield; Stacy Hartung settled the play and found Erin Byrnes open. After receiving similar chances earlier in the game, Byrnes scored her first collegiate goal only 32 seconds into sudden death double overtime.

Over the course of the season the Wildcats have proven that they are not only able to dominate in the opening minutes of play, but also be resilient in the waning moments of the match.

In a match controlled by midfield struggles, Villanova’s strong defensive core kept the squad’s shutout streak alive and allowed only one goal in seven games. Defenders Laura Sylvester and Blandford played a spectacular game, keeping the Tigers’ scoring chances to a minimum, while Loyden posted her third solo shutout of the season and the 17th of her career.

Villanova looks to set a team record for the most consecutive wins at the start of a season when they host Georgetown tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the West Campus Soccer Complex. The match will be the Wildcat’s first Big East opponent and will be part of a soccer doubleheader, with the men also taking on Georgetown at noon.