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Women’s Soccer Drops Undefeated Record

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
The Wildcats were shutout in both of their matches this past weekend.

Flying high after no losses through their first nine games, the Villanova Wildcats’ women’s soccer team hit a snag, getting shutout in back-to-back losses on the road at Xavier, losing 1-0, and St. John’s, losing 2-0. These losses dropped the Cats’ record to 4-2-5 on the 2023 campaign and ending their 12-game unbeaten streak, and leaving them with a Big East record of 1-2 in conference play.

It was not a trip of much offensive action for Villanova, as it has just seven combined shots on the road, with only a single shot on goal in the game against the Musketeers and none against the Red Storm. This marks Villanova’s first game in two and a half years without any shots on goal.

For the first game of the week against Xavier (9-2-2) it was a defensive battle as the Musketeers limited the Wildcats to just two shots in the first half. Villanova gritted through 16 shot attempts by Xavier, only allowing three of them on goal. 

However, one of those shots on goal was all Xavier needed. Villanova conceeded what ended up being the game winning goal, as graduate defender Madison Ayson found the back of the net off an assist from freshman midfielder Kennedy Clark. The shot ended up being just out of graduate goalkeeper Payton Woodward’s reach. 

“It’s a marginal sport, and you take your eye off the ball for one second, you’re gonna give up a goal,” head coach Samar Azem said. “And we did, they had a bit of a fluky goal, so walking away from that game, there was a little bit of a sting.”

Graduate forward Makayla Stadler had a chance to tie the match in the final minutes, but her 87th minute shot on goal was saved by Xavier’s sophomore goalkeeper Maria Gadley — the only time Gadley had to save a shot on the day. This loss marked Villanova’s first on the season, and was just the second time Villanova was held scoreless by an opposing defense, with the first occurring in a scoreless draw against West Virginia.

As for Villanova’s matchup against St. John’s (6-4-2), the ‘Cats allowed the most goals to an opposing offense all year with two given up to juniors Jailene DeJesus and Lauryn Tran. On the offensive front, it was a day of great frustration as the Wildcats only managed two total shots, neither of goal. The Wildcats only came close to a goal on a second half shot that was fallen on by the St. John’s goalkeeper to give possession back to her team.

“I felt the players could have done more as far as just being able to adapt to that game [against St. John’s] because it was going to be a very different game than we saw at Xavier,” Azem said. “St. John’s did really well to capitalize on the transitional aspect of the game and we were slower on the day, mentally and physically, and they capitalized on that.”

The Red Storm’s defense lived up to the hype, as they racked up their fifth shutout win of the year, led by captain and graduate center Katherine Turner. Turner was named Big East defensive player of the week for her efforts in limiting Villanova’s offense.

Despite the two losses, Azem looked on the positives of the week rather than focusing on the mere results of the games. 

“Overall, I’d say it was a good week for us,” Azem said. “It didn’t feel like there were any takeaways where we don’t have solutions, which is always a positive.

She also noted that heading into the Red Storm game, the team lacked the necessary preparation for the matchup

“It’s a stressful week, it’s a lot of travel, coming off a really hard game [at Xavier],” Azem said. “I thought that we didn’t prepare our team well enough for that as a coaching staff.”

Despite the two losses, Azem is not discouraged at all in her team’s performance, believing that they have higher heights to reach on and off the pitch.

“It’s been a great year so far, it’s been exciting to see the team grow so much and so quickly,” Azem said. “Credit to the players, they’ve really invested and really bought into what we’ve been doing. […] I would say for most coaches, they’d say our culture is near perfect. For me though, I think it’s very good but we have room to grow. I think we have room to grow in the aspect of just having that lethal mindset competitively.”

Looking ahead, Villanova’s next game will be at home against Butler (5-4-3) on Thursday, Oct. 5. Butler is undefeated since Sept. 3, an accomplishment the Wildcats are hoping to break to get back in the win column. Kick-off is set for 3 p.m. 

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About the Contributor
Finn Courtney
Finn Courtney, Co-News Editor
Finn Courtney is a freshman Communications and Political Science double major and is entering his first year as one of the Co-News editors for 2024. With a passion for politics and sports, Finn's been a writer for as long as he can remember, was a four-year editor and leader on his high school paper and as a freshman has covered a variety of stories for The Villanovan, City of Basketball Love, and has been reposted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. When he's not typing up a story or filming with Villanova Television, you can surely catch him procrastinating on something, watching a Mets game (it's their year!) or trying to just live life to the fullest.
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