The Women’s Soccer team is 3-1-1 at the West Campus Soccer Complex this season. (Meghan Albrittain/The Villanovan)
by Angie Matarozzi
Coming off a decisive 3-0 win over Richmond the previous week, the Wildcats faced LaSalle on Thursday afternoon at the West Campus Soccer Complex.
Despite impressively controlling the offensive tempo for the majority of the game, the Wildcats were not able to find the net and fell to the Explorers 1-0.
The only goal in the contest was scored by Junior Kelsey Haycook in the 16th minute of play, but it was all the Explorers needed to defeat the Wildcats on their home field.
With this loss, Villanova dropped to 2-3-2 on the year, while La Salle improved to 5-1-0.
Villanova controlled possession throughout the contest, holding a 10-1 lead in shots by the end of the first half.
However, the Explorers were able to get past Villanova’s keeper in the 16th minute for their first and only goal of the game. Freshman Deja Davis assisted Haycook inside the box for a shot that beat Villanova’s goalie, Jami Kranich.
Haycook leads the Atlantic 10 in both goals and points—five and 12, respectively.
The early score gave Villanova plenty of opportunities to tie the game, yet the Wildcats were not able to capitalize on their 5-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Yet they came close in the 88th minute, when Villanova junior Caitlin Forte shot a close range shot from the left side that was stopped head-on by La Salle’s goalie, Jessica Wiggins.
The clock was the enemy for the Wildcats in the second half.
Despite taking three corner kicks within the last 12 minutes of play, ’Nova ultimately came up empty against Wiggins, who recorded five saves for the Explorers. Kranich posted one save for the Wildcats.
The Villanova Wildcats finished the game with a 23-5 lead in shots as well as a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks.
It was clear that Villanova was the offensively superior team, yet the Explorers’ backline was able to effectively keep the Wildcats off the score sheet and avoid overtime.
Last year, Villanova recorded a 3-2 victory over La Salle. They have only lost to the Explorers one other time.
The Wildcats bounced back on Sunday however, led by junior Victoria Gersh and sophomore Christine Camassa, in a 2-1 victory over the St. Francis Red Flashes on Sunday afternoon.
The win elevated Villanova to 3-2-3 record while the Red Flashes fell to 3-4-1. Despite St. Francis coming off of three consecutive wins—their most recent a 2-1 victory over Bucknell—the ’Cats were able to disrupt the Red Flashes momentum and control the offensive tempo of the match.
Unlike their offensively stagnant game against LaSalle, the Wildcats were able to get on the board early on, with two back-to-back goals within the first 15 minutes of play. Gersh and Camassa led the pack, with key assists provided by Katie Martin.
The Wildcats opened the contest aggressively on the offensive end, scoring their first goal in the 12th minute of play.
Gersh, alongside freshman forward Katie Martin, assisted the ball to Camassa who put the Wildcats on the board with a shot to the center of the net.
The offensive energy continued just minutes later when Gersh found herself inside the 18 with an opportunity to score.
Gersh wasted no time to put the Wildcats decisively up by two in the first half. The Wildcats finished the opening half with a 10-6 advantage in shots over the Red Flashes.
Although the Wildcats carried their momentum into the second half, the St. Francis keeper, Jessica Andrew, was able to record two point-blank saves that denied the Wildcats the chance to add on further insurance to their lead. ’Nova junior Caitlin Forte was deprived of a goal by Andrew at both the 53rd and 57th minute of play.
St. Francis’ only goal came with 20 minutes left in the game, following a Villanova foul. Eloa Nascimento, a junior forward for the Red Flashes, took her free kick, and Alecia McNiff converted the goal inside the 18, making the score 2-1.
However, the Wildcats disallowed their opponent any further opportunities to score, and were able to protect their early lead in the game. Villanova ended the game with a 16-10 lead in shots and an 8-7 advantage in shots on goal.
The Wildcats continue to be undefeated against the Red Flashes in school history, and possess a 3-0-0 record against them.
Villanova is set to play Rutgers next week in Piscataway, N.J. The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 5-1 win against Princeton.