‘Cats clinch second place

Kaitlin Santanna

The Villanova women’s soccer team dropped their first Big East match last Friday against Notre Dame, but finished the weekend strong with a win against DePaul. Villanova’s first loss in almost six weeks came at the hands of conference leading No. 7 Notre Dame. Before Friday’s game, the Wildcats had posted a nine-game winning streak, seven of which were against conference opponents.

Notre Dame came out swinging, outshooting the ‘Cats 15-1 in the first period. Nevertheless, a strong showing by the Villanova defense and junior goaltender Jillian Loyden kept the team in the game. The Fighting Irish were held off of a goal until the 58th minute of the first half. Notre Dame’s defense and midfielders provided similar resistance, holding ‘Nova off any major scoring chances. The game remained at 1-0 until the final 32 minutes of play in which Notre Dame scored three times, bringing the final score of the game to 4-0.

Villanova was the last team in the Big East to lose to a conference team. With the win Notre Dame clinched first place in Division B, while the ‘Cats were knocked down to a second place tie with Louisville. Villanova needed a win over DePaul on Sunday to solidify sole possession of second place in Division B.

A victory is exactly what ‘Nova achieved on Oct. 23 during an away game against DePaul. The Wildcats returned to their common procedure of scoring late in the game. The team’s persistent offense in the final minutes of the game came through again as Villanova defeated DePaul 2-1.

With both teams vying for a playoff spot, the play was tight. Neither team scored in the first

half. The first goal came from DePaul in the 60th minute. Sophomore Nikki Mabery lead the ‘Cat’s comeback. A corner kick was awarded after her shot ricocheted off the DePaul goaltender and went out of play. Sophomore defender Kayce Blandford took the corner kick. The airborne ball deflected off a DePaul player and into the net to make the game tied at one. The goal was registered as an own goal.

Less than two minutes after the corner kick was taken, Villanova was on the offense again. Freshman Ali Foley passed the ball to Mabery, who shot the ball past the DePaul goaltender and into the net. It was Mabery’s sixth goal of the season along with her third career game-winning goal. The assist marked Foley’s first collegiate point.

Although taking the first shot of the game just 33 seconds in, the Wildcats were outshot by the Blue Demons 14-12 in the contest. Loyden recorded two saves in the victory.

Sunday marked the end of the regular season schedule, with the day’s play the deciding factor for the conference tournament positioning. Villanova is in second place in Division B, finishing 6-1-3 against Big East opponents and 10-4-4 overall. ‘Nova must now play the third seed in Division A, West Virginia, in the quarterfinals for the Big East Tournament on Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. The ‘Cats’ win against DePaul granted them a home field advantage. It will be the third meeting of the two schools in the Big East Tournament. Their last game was the quarterfinal match in 2003 in which Villanova won 1-0 on penalty kicks.