The Villanova women’s soccer team dropped their first two games in Big East play over the weekend, losing 2-1 to Seton Hall in its Big East Opener on Thursday, before falling 3-1 against Marquette on Sunday. The Wildcats’ record now stands at 6-4 overall.
Thursday’s game took place during one of the worst thunderstorms this area of Pennsylvania has seen so far this school year. There was a 15-minute delay at the beginning of the game because of lightning and heavy rain, but the teams played on.
The Pirates were on the offensive early in the game and took four shots, one of which was on goal by Natalie Tavana. Senior goalkeeper Megan McClay was able to save Tavana’s attempt and keep the score level. The Wildcats were able to get more comfortable in the game after that, with freshman Francesca Yanchuk taking three shots against Pirate goalkeeper Grace Gordon, one of which was on goal.
Throughout the first half, things were very even, though both goalkeepers were put to the test. McClay made back-to-back saves in the 34th minute of the game to keep the score level, sending both teams into half-time tied 0-0.
At the beginning of the second half, the Wildcats started on the attack, putting three shots on goal, but Yanchuk, senior Reagan Smith and senior Chloe O’Neill, making Seton Hall goalie Gordon work hard just in the first 10 minutes of the half.
The Wildcats finally fell behind in the 73rd minute of the game, when the Pirates’ Laura Hooper connected on a pass from Caroline Lipton 20 yards out of the box that soared into the upper right corner of the goal, out of McClay’s reach.
In the 78th minute, the Wildcats responded. A corner was taken by O’Neill that found Smith’s head, and she guided it past Gordon, tying the game 1-1.
Four minutes later, Hooper scored her second goal of the game on passes from teammates Lipton and Tavana, making the score 2-1, Seton Hall.
O’Neill had a shot in the 85th minute, but Gordon saved it to preserve the Pirate victory.
On Sunday, Sep. 26, the Wildcats fell 3-1 against Marquette’s Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles attacked from the start. They had multiple attempts on goal, with one attempt of a Cristiano Ronaldo-style bicycle kick in the box, which was immediately called for a foul against Marquette.
The Wildcats were able to take the lead first, when in the 20th minute of the game Yanchuk crossed the ball inside the box for O’Neill. Instead of going to O’Neill, Marquette’s Katrina Wetherell tried to clear the ball away, but accidentally sent the ball into her own goal.
Two minutes later, the Golden Eagles tied the score. Kylie Sprecher was able to send a long ball into the box to Elsi Twombly, who headed past McClay. Despite multiple key defensive slide tackles for the Wildcats throughout the first half, the Golden Eagles were able to get a second goal in the 31st minute, when Rachel Johnson scored after the Wildcats failed to clear the ball out of the box.
The pressure didn’t stop there for the Golden Eagles, as three minutes later poor passing by the Wildcat defense led to a breakaway for Maggie Starker. There was nothing McClay could do in the one-on-one, and Marquette was able to extend its lead to 3-1 in the 34th minute.
Nevertheless, the star of the game for the Wildcats was McClay, as the score would have been significantly worse without her. In the opening minutes of the second half, Marquette was awarded a penalty, but McClay made a diving save from the kick. Marquette was able to take another shot off the rebound, requiring her to make back-to-back saves. The Golden Eagles took 18 shots, with eight on goal, while the Wildcats took nine shots, with five on target. Although the Wildcats had some good opportunities towards the end of the second half from Yanchuk, O’Neill and junior defender Alexa Wojnovich, they still were never able to regain the lead.
The Wildcats will visit Xavier Thursday at 7 p.m. The last time the Wildcats faced the Musketeers was on Nov. 7, 2019 and were defeated 2-0. The game can be watched on BEDN on FloSports.