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Women’s Soccer Claims First Big East Win

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Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Villanova still remains undefeated in its 2023 season.

Villanova’s women’s soccer team faced Seton Hall in its Big East opener on Sunday, Sept. 24. The rain-soaked game turned out to be a tight Big East matchup, with the Wildcats ultimately claiming the victory, 2-1, to remain undefeated (4-0-5). The win also makes the Wildcats 1-0 in conference play.

For the first 75 minutes, it was all Villanova. Despite each team having a similar amount of shot attempts in the first half, only the Wildcats could muster any productive opportunities on offense. 

The Wildcats scored both of their goals in the first half. The first goal came in the 21st  minute from graduate forward/defender Makayla Stadler, who last week was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week. She received a pass at the top of the box from junior midfielder Brigid Malloy, then placed a beautiful left-footed shot over the Seton Hall keeper. This was Stadler’s fifth goal this season. She currently stands tied for fourth in most goals scored in the Big East.

The second goal came in the 40th minute from junior midfielder Maddie Fried. It was a good combination between Fried and the assisting junior forward Megan Donnelly. Donnelly played a through ball over two Pirate defenders in space forcing Seton Hall’s keeper to come out. Fried managed to reach the ball first, poking it over the keeper with her left foot. This marked the first time the Wildcats have scored multiple goals in a game since Sept. 3, and it was ultimately the deciding goal.

The second half seemed to look more of the same for Villanova as it dominated in possession and had even more opportunities for goals. However, with 15 minutes left to play, Seton Hall came alive, scoring a goal in the 77th minute. The Pirates continued to force the pressure on the Wildcats, giving the Pirates several great looks on goal. 

“We believe that we’re going to go in and control the game,” Villanova head coach Samar Azem said. “We say it’s 0-0 every time. I thought the first 15 minutes of that second half, we were in complete control. I really thought we were unlucky not to get another goal. But after that time passed we got comfortable. We just needed to do it for the last 15 minutes, too.” 

Despite these late attempts from Seton Hall, some spectacular saves by graduate keeper Payton Woodward and crucial stops from the Villanova defense helped the Wildcats hold on to their 2-1 lead and earn their first Big East win of the year.

“We pride ourselves on how we defend,” Azem said. “We controlled the game because of how we defended. We got two great goals because of how we defend and attack.”

The Wildcats take their undefeated record into their next game on Thursday, Sept. 28, another Big East Matchup at Xavier. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. They will then play at St. John’s on Sunday, Oct. 1, continuing their stretch of Big East games. Kickoff for that match is set for 1 p.m.

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