The Villanova women’s soccer team lost their fourth and fifth straight games in the Big East, losing 3-0 against Xavier on Thursday, before being defeated 3-2 by DePaul on Sunday. The Wildcats’ record now stands at 6-6 overall.
In Thursday’s game, Villanova started strong and the Wildcats were the more physical team. Nevertheless, the Musketeers challenged the defense early on with multiple counter-attacks, often broken up by key slide tackles by sophomore Lauren Ashman. One of the fast-breaks led to the opening goal in the fifth minute, when Xavier’s Emma Marcus was able to send a long pass to Sonia Vargas, who fired a low hard strike past senior goalkeeper Megan McClay into the back of the net.
Senior Reagan Smith almost equalized for the Wildcats in the 22nd minute when she took one of the Wildcats’ only shots on goal, but Musketeer goalkeeper Olivia Jenkins was able to use her tall frame to jump up and get her hands on the ball.
The Wildcats’ best opportunity for a goal in the match came in the 32nd minute, when senior Brice McInroy stole the ball from a Musketeer center back and was able to get a clear shot at the goal with Jenkins off her line. The ball went high and pinged off the crossbar, allowing the Musketeers to go into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The second half was all Xavier, and the Wildcats were never able to get back into the game. In the opening minutes of the second half, senior forward Chloe O’Neill was able to get a shot that just went wide of the net, but opportunities were few and far between for the rest of the half.
The Wildcats fell further behind when Ashman committed a foul in the box, giving the Musketeers a penalty kick. Despite all of her overall key saves throughout the game and her penalty kick save from the previous game, McClay was unable to save Molly McLaughlin’s shot to the bottom corner of the goal.
In the 87th minute of the game, the Musketeers sealed their win with a third goal when Carrie Lewis assisted Chloe Netzel for an easy finish past McClay.
On Sunday, Oct. 3, the Wildcats fell 3-2 in Chicago against DePaul’s Blue Demons. The Blue Demons were quick from the start and scored all three of their goals early on in the first half of the game, but a frenzied Wildcat second half comeback came up just short.
The star of the game was DePaul’s Morgan Turner, who scored all three goals. Turner began her hat trick with the opener in the 10th minute, as Kristin Boos threaded the ball past Wildcat defenders to set Turner up for a goal. For her second goal in the 25th minute, Olivia Cooke found Turner in the box again, and senior goalkeeper Megan McClay couldn’t keep it out of the net. Her final goal took place in the 31st minute, when she intercepted a pass from the Wildcat defense and took the open opportunity to complete the hat trick, sending the Blue Demons into halftime up 3-0.
In the second half, the Wildcats came out looking to rally and got on the board early. In the 53rd minute, the Wildcats were able to string together a series of passes, and McInroy found O’Neill at the top of the box. From there, O’Neill crossed to senior midfielder Niki Molina, who sent the ball low and hard to the right corner to get the Wildcats within two.
In the 72nd minute, freshman midfielder Molly Keiper received her second yellow card of the game, taking her off the field and leaving the Wildcats down one player for the final 18 minutes.
This didn’t stop the Wildcat comeback efforts. In the 80th minute of the game, senior Lauren Ashman delivered a long ball into the box for freshman forward Lauren Belcuore, who finished into the lower-left corner of the goal to make it 3-2.
The Wildcats had one last chance to tie it up, in the 88th minute of the game. Smith got a shot off but it was blocked, ending any chance of a Wildcat comeback. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 6-6, with the 6-1 start a distant memory after five losses in a row.
The next game for Villanova will be on Thursday, Oct. 7th at home against the Providence Friars. The last time the Wildcats played the Friars was on April 5, 2021, which ended in a loss of 2-1. Kickoff is at 3:00 P.M. at Higgins Soccer Complex.