Wildcats take two on the road

Joe Groglio

A successful team is a team capable of winning wherever it plays.

After returning from a tough road trip with two victories, the Wildcats showed that they were more than capable of playing, and winning, outside the comfort of home.

The trip began Sept. 24 with the ‘Cats traveling to West Virginia to take on the ninth-ranked Mountaineers. The team came out strong in the first half but was unable to penetrate the opponents’ defense. By the end of the first half, the game remained scoreless.

In the 53rd minute of the game, Villanova’s senior leadership prevailed and helped its team get on the board. After receiving a long pass from freshman Kayce Blandford, senior captain Laura Johnson converted for the game’s first and only goal.

From there, the ‘Cats defense, led by Laura Koch and Michelle Biehl, took control of the game. In addition to Koch and Biehl, Kristen Anderson also was a key player in shutting out the Mountaineers.

“Kristen is a tremendous asset to our defense,” Biehl said. “She is what solidifies the back four.”

The 1-0 victory gave the Wildcats their sixth and goalie Jillian Loyden her fifth shutout of the season. While the Mountaineers had many opportunities to score, Loyden continued to make one great save after another and preserved the win for her team.

On Sunday, the ‘Cats traveled up north to New Jersey to play Seton Hall. This time ‘Nova struck early, as sophomore Valerie Grow scored just four minutes into the game off an assist from Johnson. However, it was senior Erica Stewart’s breakaway that set up the game-winning point.

“Erica was tremendous against Seton Hall,” head coach Ann Clifton said. “[She] seemed to win every ball and start our offense from her position.”

In the first half, the ‘Cats outshot Seton Hall 8-5. Meanwhile, the second half was again dominated by the magnificent quartet of Koch, Biehl, Anderson and Blanford. Their defense was simply too much for the Pirates to handle, and by the end of the game, Villanova had recorded yet another shutout and earned its fifth consecutive victory.

Loyden’s sixth shuout in the game against Seton Hall led to her being named the Big East Goalie of the Week for the second week in a row. It was the third time in four weeks that she had been awarded that honor.

By defeating West Virginia and Seton Hall, the team improved to a 9-1 overall record and moved up to the 19th position in the Soccer America poll.

“We are very proud of the team’s development to this point,” Clifton said, “but we realize that we must continue to work hard to complete a great season.”

The upcoming week will be another difficult one for the women’s soccer team. Today they take on Rutgers at 4 p.m at Villanova.

“Rutgers is a great team and very well coached,” Clifton said. “We are excited about the challenge.”

After playing the Scarlet Knights, the Wildcats head to New York to face a tough St. John’s team on Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.