‘Cats roll into Big East Tourney

Joe Groglio

Momentum is often the key element in sports, as a team’s season can turn around with a simple hot or cold streak. Last week the women’s soccer team took a turn for the better and established that all-important momentum heading into the Big East tournament.

Going into the week, the ‘Cats knew they would need to win both of their remaining games, plus a Big East Tourney game, to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. They got off to a great start Friday night in Ohio, as they demolished Youngstown State, 3-0. Villanova scored all of its goals in the first half and out shot the Penguins, 30-1.

The first goal was a significant one. Kelly Breslin connected off a corner kick by co-captain Laura Johnson, giving Johnson her 28th career assist, which tied her for first place with Cathy Ford for all-time Villanova assists.

Jamie Weist added a goal with a blast right through the defense, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Minutes later freshman Nikki Mabery scored off a header inside the box to seal the game.

The defense dominated as usual, with goalie Jillian Loyden facing only one shot and picking up her eighth shutout of the year.

Sunday brought yet another test in Pittsburgh as the ‘Cats looked to improve their Big East record. The first half was a defensive stalemate as both teams battled hard but could not score.

In the 47th minute, Weist made a short crossing pass to Erica Stewert, who fired a 10-yarder into the net to make it 1-0. Stewert was not done yet, though. A few minutes later she assisted Johnson, which made the score 2-0.

Pittsburgh was able to cut the lead in half after scoring on a corner kick. However, the Villanova offense answered back again after Regina Villari launched a long bomb into the net to put the game away. Weist added to the play for her second assist of the game.

“It was a great weekend and we are excited and getting ready to play in the Big East Tournament,” Coach Ann Clifton said.

The win brought the Wildcats to 12-5-1 and 5-4-1 in Big East play.

The ‘Cats will play either Boston College or West Virgina on Sunday, depending on the outcome of the Georgetown-Pitt game.

“We want to stay confident and hungry for another Championship,” Clifton said. “At this point we are still in the mix for an NCAA Tournament bid.”

With their talent and discipline, the ‘Cats are sure to be a force in this tournament. No team in the Big East or the nation should underestimate the heart of these champions.