Shutouts propel ‘Cats to post-season

Lauren Ferrara

Concluding its regular season campaign, women’s soccer team shut out Loyola College 3-0 at the Villanova Soccer Complex Tuesday. The Wildcats showed playoff form in their third straight win which put their regular season record at 13-5-1.

“The game wasn’t the prettiest,” senior Janessa Jeltema said. “But we have been able to find the back of the net, which is the most important thing.”

The game’s first goal came at 35:24 when Laura Johnson sent a cross pass toward the left post, where Regina Villari was able to have a back post header into the net. It was Villari’s fourth goal on the season, which lifted ‘Nova to a 1-0 lead. “When Regina scored it broke their momentum,” senior Elizabeth Dauble said. “The next goal by L.J. made them completely back down.”

Johnson’s goal came right before intermission, when with 2:17 remaining, Laura Koch connected with Johnson, who carried the ball to the top left of the box. There she blasted a shot from 20 yards out, sending it to the top right of the net to increase the Villanova advantage to 2-0 at halftime.

The Wildcats came out in the second half wasting little time, at just 7:31 into the half, Villanova polished off the day’s scoring. Villari deflected a loose ball to the right of the Loyola net, where Jeltema knocked it in. Jeltema’s goal, which gives her two goals and four assists in the last three games, improved the ‘Cats lead to 3-0.

The Wildcat defense took control for the remainder of the game, allowing few scoring opportunities to Pitt in the second half. Chrissy Dolan registered six saves in goal for her 12th shut out of the season. She now has 26.5 shutouts in her Villanova Career.

Earlier in the week, the Wildcats celebrated Senior Day against Big East foe Pittsburg Oct. 26. The Sunday event did not disappoint as the ‘Cats shut out the Panthers 2-0.

The Wildcat seniors led the way as forward Jeltema dished out two assists, and midfielder MacDonald recoded a goal. The midfield was dominated by Dauble, while Dolan saved four shots in the cage en route to the Pitt shut out.

“Emotions were very high because it was Senior Day,” Duble said. “Plus we needed to win or at least tie Pitt to get into the Big East Tournament.”

The ‘ats were on a mission. They earned their first lead at 19:19 when Jeltema sent a high cross into the front right of the box. It was there that Johnson was able to head the ball past Pitt goalkeeper Jamie Pelusi to give Villanova the 1-0 lead.

The physical play continued from both sides, ‘Nova was able to keep the ball on its half of the field from the gained momentum off Pitt’s fouls. MacDonald capitalized on a short feed from Jeltema at 37:15. The lofted ball as controlled by MacDonald who then sent a low shot past Pelusi into the left of the net. The goal increased the Villanova advantage to 2-0 at intermission.

The Panthers came out with a vengeance in the second half, looking to even up the score. “They came out strong and we began to play their game,” Dauble said. “The ball was in the air a lot and everything was rushed. We weren’t playing our usual possession game.”

The Panther offense had several scoring opportunities, but the Wildcat defense led by Michelle Biehl and Koch would not budge. The shots that did get off went high and wide to keep the score at 2-0.

One final rally by the Panthers came with one minute remaining in the contest, but Dolan stepped up to save the ball and the shut out to end the game.

‘Nova will now travel to Storrs, Conn., where the Wildcats will take on the Huskies in the Big East Championship Quarterfinals on Sunday at 1 p.m