Women climb to No. 18 spot



Lauren Ferrara

Villanova women’s soccer team continued to climb in the rankings this week as they moved up to No. 18 in the Soccer America Top 25 Poll. The three-spot jump from last week’s No. 21 came after two Big East conference wins over Virginia Tech and Syracuse. The ‘Cats are currently perfect on the season with a 6-0-0 record, and have outscored opponents by a 12-3 margin.

Head coach Ann Clifton, who is in her seventh season, replied humbly when asked about the move up in rankings. “I am really excited about the season so far,” she said. “The end of the season is what counts though. We just really wanted to stamp a statement on the Big East conference with these two games.”

The ‘Cats did send out a convincing statement to Big East conference foes with a 2-1 home win over Virginia Tech on Sunday, Sept. 14. The first half seemed to be evenly matched, as both teams posted seven shots and each team’s keeper saved five shots.

‘Nova claimed the lead at the 16:17 mark in the first half. It came when junior defender Patricia Misciagna took a powerful corner kick which sent the ball flying over the head of Hokie goalkeeper Mallory Soldner.

The Hokies answered at the 37:00 mark when Kathy Holdsworth gained control of the ball off a deflection and blasted a shot into the upper right hand corner of the net. The game was tied 1-1 at the half.

“The game started off slow,” senior co-captain Michelle Biehl said. “In the first half we were pretty much evenly matched. We were disappointed with ourselves that we didn’t play to our potential.”

The drop in intensity did not last. The ‘Cats came out from the locker room fired up. ‘Nova took control from the opening kick and scored a goal just 1:13 into the second half. The point came when freshman Jamie Weist sent a lead pass to junior forward Regina Villari. Villari sent a shot past a diving Soldner to the right corner of the net. ‘Nova reclaimed a 2-1 lead.

“After that goal we played our absolute hardest not to let down,” Biehl said. The Wildcat defense did just that, shutting down the Hokies for the remainder of the game with the help of teammates Laura Koch and Kristin Anderson. Senior co-captain Chrissy Dolan recorded the win in net with a season high eight saves.

On Sept. 11., Villanova posted their first Big East win in an exciting game against Syracuse 3-2. Coming into the contest the ‘Cats were 4-0-0 and had yet to let up a goal in the season.

“We knew going into the game it was huge because it was our first Big East game,” senior captain Candice MacDonald said. “We wanted to set the tone early.”

The ‘Cats found themselves in an unusual place as the Orangewoman scored first at 15:19 on a penalty kick in the first half. Syracuse’s Nina Scalzo took the kick and sent it to the far left corner past the diving Dolan.

The ‘Cats did not stay behind long, answering the goal just 17 seconds later. Senior Janessa Jeltema played the ball to fellow senior Liz Dauble. Dauble then found sophomore Lindsey Finnegan speeding in eight yards from goal. Finnegan shot the ball to the right of the net, pushing the score to 1-1.

The back and forth play continued, until ‘Nova struck again at the 39:51 mark. Freshman Megan Farmer blasted a shot to the top right of the net on a Valerie Grow assist. Syracuse answered back with just 3:10 left before halftime when Scalzo capitalized on a ‘Nova turnover 10 yards out, sending a shot over Dolan to the top left corner of goal.

At the start of the second half of play, both defenses proved strong, preventing offensive opportunities. With less than four minutes left to play, freshman Jamie Weist sent a pass in the direction of Finnegan down the field. Finnegan won the footrace against Syracuse keeper Shannon Myers, allowing Finnegan to grab the game-winner.

Villanova gets back into action Friday when the ‘Cats will travel to Providence to take on the Friars at 4 p.m. On Sunday the women will play another road game when they match up against Boston College.