Women’s Soccer Opens Big East Play with 2-0 Shutout of Seton Hall


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Megan McClay (above) had six saves in the victory.

Victoria Newsome, Staff Writer

On Sunday afternoon, Villanova women’s soccer made a Big East Play shut-out statement, 2-0, against the Seton Hall Pirates at Owen T. Carroll Field. Senior forward Makayla Stadler sparked the momentum after scoring the first goal around the 10th minute of the game from a corner kick assisted by junior midfielders Lauren Ashman and Emma Weaver. As the Pirates’ struggled to maintain their possession of the ball, the Wildcats defense showed grit and passion to maintain the lead throughout the entire game.

The Pirates’ remained scoreless and prone to fouls (eight), and the ‘Cats sealed the deal after the half with their second goal by Ashman on an assist from Weaver. Since 1994, Villanova leads the all-time series history 18-9 against Seton Hall. The most recent win was the Pirates last season, but the performance by ‘Cats continues to keep them in the winning column of the series. 

The outcome of this game would not have been achieved without graduate goalkeeper Megan McClay, who had six saves from the Pirates’ wild shots on goal, as well as the defensive efforts from everyone on the team. 

After 11 days of preparation, the ‘Cats were ready to set the tone for Big East play. The match between the ‘Cats and the Pirates’ was particularly unique since both head coaches are in their first year coaching at their respective schools. After the game, Villanova head coach Samar Azem mentioned how proud she is of her team’s fight in its performance. Azem also included how their training has worked in their favor in establishing a process that everyone can invest in. 

“We talk about it all the time: every single player contributes to what this team does on game day, and every single day at training every player has been invested and involved,”Azem told Villanova Athletics. “What we want to do, how we want to play, how we want to create goals, and so, to come out here and then to see the stats sheet is with a number of different players in a couple different ways.”

This game marked many firsts for the ‘Cats season. It marked the first win in the Big East Conference for them since last season versus Creighton on Oct. 10, 2021. In addition, it was the first time the ‘Cats scored multiple goals this season, and it is the Pirates’ first time allowing multiple goals this season. 

Stadler shared that the team has found difficulty scoring goals this season, so it was a special feeling when she scored the first goal to build the momentum for the game.

“I think it was a super uplifting moment for our team,” Stadler said. “Every day at practice, we spend time focusing on set pieces, so to score such a great team goal off a set piece was really amazing. It just goes to show that the work we put in at practices translates into the games.”

McClay’s ability to stay focused for anything and bounce back physically and mentally from each save was key for the Wildcats.

“Staying in the present and the trust that I have in my teammates helps me stay calm,” McClay said. “So, I can have their backs when I’m called upon in the game. I’m most proud of how organized we were defensively. Obviously making saves feels good, but there was a lot of work done defensively that prevented opportunities for Seton Hall. So, moving into the next games, just continuing to communicate and help the back line remain organized.” 

The ‘Cats improved to 2-3-2 and 1-0 in the Big East Conference. They are prepared to face Xavier on Thursday at Higgins Sports Complex as they look to continue building on their momentum.