Last week, the Villanova women’s soccer team absorbed its second defeat this season, losing against UPenn, 2-0. This drops the Wildcats’ record to 6-2-0.
The game started off close, with neither side making much headway against the other. Villanova freshman forward Francesa Yanchuk took the first shot against the Quakers in the game’s sixth minute. Wildcats senior goalkeeper Megan McClay had key saves in the 25th and 31st minutes of the game, allowing her team to stay in the game for the majority of the first half. The goalkeepers were both tested only a couple of times during the game, as McClay faced seven shots on goal, saving five.
In the 32nd minute of the game, McClay saved a shot taken by Quaker Lauren Teushcl, but the rebound fell to Penn’s Sizzy Lawton, who made it 1-0 in favor of the hosts. One of the strongest chances for the Wildcats came in the 36th minute, when freshman Maddie Fried crossed the ball into the box for senior midfielder Brice McInroy. After McInroy’s header, the ball fell to the feet of senior midfielder Reagan Smith, who was able to get a shot off. However, the shot was saved by goalkeeper Laurence Gladu, sending the game into halftime 1-0.
“I actually thought we started off fantastic and really dictated the rhythm and tempo of the game,” Villanova head coach Chris McLain said of the team’s first-half performance, per Villanova Athletics.
Going into the second half, the Wildcats still had control of the game, and during the opening minutes, had the opportunity of a free kick about 25 yards away from goal. The ball found its way to freshman midfielder Susanna Soderman after being fought for in the middle of the box, but her attempt was shut down by Gladu.
From there, the Wildcats were never really able to get their footing back as the Quakers made some key tactical adjustments in the second half.
“They made some good changes which we knew they would,” McLain said. “But then we didn’t adapt and it changed the dynamics of the game.”
In the 77th minute, Teuschl got one by McClay after an assist from Lawton. Lauren Belcuore tried to get the Wildcats back into the game with a strong shot from the top of the box in the 81st minute, but again it was saved by Gladu.
McLain did not think that this was the Wildcats’ best team performance, as they only had eight shots compared to the Quakers’ count of 17.
“The early service wasn’t great, our killer passes were not great, we didn’t shoot to score, and we wanted to win the game with individual greatness,” McLain said. “Only playing for the teammate on your left and the teammate on your right will help you win games in tough derbies like this.”
This is exactly the type of advice the Wildcats should follow going forward into their Big-East games, as this was their last non-conference game. Their opener will take place next Thursday, Sep. 23, when Villanova will host Seton Hall at 3 p.m. at Higgins Soccer Complex on West Campus. The last time the Wildcats played the Pirates was on April 8, 2021, when they came out victorious 2-1 in double overtime.
“We have some time before we play Seton Hall and Marquette,” McLain said. “That allows us to learn from games like these. We will be prepared and ready, as long as we learn from these types of games, we will be a better team come Thursday.”