Women’s soccer ousts top teams, earns national ranking



Christopher A. Smith

The Villanova women’s soccer team finally made its statement last Friday at the West Campus Soccer Complex, upsetting the ninth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The 2-1 victory was the Wildcats’ first over a ranked opponent in four tries this season.

The Wildcats were rewarded with their first national ranking in school history. They are currently No. 20 in the nation according to Soccer America Magazine.

The Wildcats’ record currently stands at an impressive 8-1-3, including 3-1-1 in the Big East Conference’s Mid-Atlantic Division.

Against Notre Dame, sophomore Laura Johnson teamed with senior Julie Battista to strike the Irish twice in one minute.

In a game that had been dominated by defense, Notre Dame took the lead early in the second half.

But Villanova responded with a goal by Battista at the 64:03 mark. Johnson and freshman Brittany Hunsaker assisted her.

Just over a minute later, Battista and Johnson switched roles, with Battista sending a corner kick to junior Candace McDonald, who found Johnson. The hero of the weekend was able to sneak a shot past Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn for the Villanova lead.

Sophomore goalkeeper Chrissy Dolan sealed the victory with a career-high 16 saves to ensure the monumental win for the Wildcats.

“The Notre Dame win felt good because we have gotten closer and closer to beating them each of the last four years,” captain Jennifer Carrigan said. “We talk about how we belong in the Top 25, so to beat one of those teams is a great accomplishment.”

As usual, Dolan received help from her trio of defenders, Carrigan, Biehl and sophomore Patricia Misciagna.

“We have been successful defensively because we are disciplined and we work as a unit,” Carrigan said. “Communication is important to us.”

Villanova will need its defense to continue its stellar play, with a Big East game against Seton Hall.

Villanova continued its conference dominance with a win over Big East foe Georgetown on Wednesday.

Senior Cary Morrell scored her first goal of the season against Georgetown, after the Hoyas had tied the game at one in the second half.

Her goal proved to be the difference in the ’Cats’ second consecutive Big East win.

The Wildcats also posted an overtime victory over cross-town rival St. Joe’s on Sunday.

Johnson was the hero of the games against St. Joe’s and Notre Dame, scoring game-winning goals in both contests to raise her team-high count to six on the season.

For her efforts, Johnson was one of three Wildcats to earn conference honors this week. The forward was named Co-Big East Offensive Player of the Week.

The Big East also honored goalkeeper Dolan and defender Biehl this week.

Dolan was named the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Week, while Biehl received Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

Villanova completely dominated Sunday’s game against the Hawks, who were lucky that the score wasn’t more lopsided, as the Wildcats missed several opportunities to make the game a blowout, including two shots that went off the posts.

’Nova took a 1-0 lead at the 56:13 mark on a goal by Hunsaker, her second of the season. Junior Elizabeth Dauble assisted Hunsaker.

St. Joe’s tied the game with just 1:29 remaining, but Johnson was able to save the day with the game-winner with 4:57 left in the first extra frame.

The Wildcats do not return to the field until Oct. 11, when they travel to Florida to battle Florida International and Miami University over a three-day span.

“Our Florida trip should be fun, but most importantly we should come away with two wins,” Carrigan added.

Such an attitude should aid the ’Cats in their quest to return to the NCAA tournament.