Women’s Soccer Finishes Season with Tie vs. Providence


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Makayla Stadler (above) scored Villanova’s lone goal against Providence.

Elijah McDow, Staff Writer

On Thursday evening, the Villanova women’s soccer came away with a 1-1 draw against Providence, putting an end to a season of trials and tribulations.

If the Wildcats had beaten Providence, their season would have continued in the Big East Tournament. With that opportunity now in the past, Villanova finishes its season with a 3-6-1 record in the Big East and an overall record of 4-9-3.

In the first 30 seconds of the match, Kyla Gallagher scored the opening goal for Providence. From there, the Friars dominated the first half. They maintained the majority of possession and managed six shots on goal. With such dominance from the Friars, Villanova goalkeeper Megan McClay and defenders such as senior Alexa Wojnovich had their hands full in the first 45 minutes. 

After a first half they would rather forget, the Wildcats responded in the second, displaying hunger, grit and cohesion. This took patience, buildup and teamwork which ultimately paid off in the 74th minute when senior Makayla Stadler headed in a goal off a corner kick from junior Emma Weaver. After the Villanova equalizer, neither team found a decisive goal before the final whistle. 

Stadler’s goal was her second of the season, which tied her with graduate forward Cici Fox for most goals on the team. While Weaver already had a team-high of four assists, her pass to Stadler on Thursday meant she finished the year with five. 

Despite individual achievements, the Wildcats have struggled as a whole, but that is to be expected in a year of transition. At the end of the last season, head coach Chris McLain resigned after six seasons at the helm of the program. In the offseason, Villanova appointed Samar Azem as the new head coach after a successful five years at Campbell University. 

On Aug. 18, the Azem era officially began when the Wildcats played Boston College. After losing this match, 2-0, they remained winless until Sept. 14 when sophomore Maddie Fried scored an 89th-minute goal to help the Wildcats defeat Colgate. From there, the team had a few wins but mostly went back to a streak of losses. Despite all the defeats, many of these games were close, as the deficits ranged from one to two goals on multiple occasions. 

Aside from the lows, the season also had some good and memorable games, such as the 2-0 win over Seton Hall, the 1-0 win over St John’s and a 2-1 thriller against DePaul on senior night.  

Now that players such as Fox, Stadler and McClay have taken off their cleats and put their jerseys in the hamper, Azem and the Wildcats turn to another new chapter. This chapter sees the loss of eight seniors. There is now a huge void and plenty of spots to fill next season. This means that come next fall, the roles of players such as Weaver, Maddie Fried, Lauren Belcuore and Lauren Ashman will grow even bigger as they will now be the leaders of the team. 

For Fox, Stadler, McClay and Wojnovich, the game at Providence was the last time they would suit up for the Wildcats. While it is bittersweet that their careers are now over, the leadership, positivity and heart of these seniors, even during a losing season, were invaluable for a first-year head coach such as Azem. 

While this was a difficult season of transition and a period of growth, the Wildcats learned a lot about themselves and their new coach. After a losing season, teams often look to respond by not repeating their previous results, and often the comeback is greater than the setback. This is exactly what Azem and the Wildcats are looking to do and preparation has already started for this. While losing so many upperclassmen will prove to be difficult, it’s clear that the returning players and the coaching staff are ready to get started and determined to get Villanova back to a position where it is competing for Big East championships year in and year out.