The Villanova women’s soccer team lost twice over the past week, falling in overtime at UConn, 1-0, before returning home and losing to Butler on Senior Day, 3-0. The Wildcats have lost three in a row and nine of their last 10, with their latest losses dropping their record to 7-10.
Sunday’s game was well fought on both sides, and 90 minutes could not separate the teams. The game finally ended in overtime in the 106th minute, when UConn finally found a winner.
The Wildcats started strong with freshman goalkeeper Ela Kopec taking over the reins from senior goalkeeper Megan McClay for the second straight start. She was able to save 13 shots, seven of which were in the second half of the game.
Another freshman, midfielder Molly Keiper, proved to be a vital part of the game, as she took four of the nine Wildcat shots on goal. Two other key opportunities from the Wildcats came from junior midfielder Jane Olcott, who tried placing her shot in the top of the goal, and sophomore Lauren Ashman, who had a hard shot on goal, but both were met by the gloves of Huskies goalkeeper Kaitlyn Mahoney.
In the second half, the freshmen continued to contribute. Freshman forward Francesca Yanchuk was able to get a shot on goal, and her classmate Maddie Fried tried sending one in the top right corner, which was again saved by the Huskies.
However, the star freshman of the game was Kopec, as her saves were what kept the Wildcats alive to see double overtime. During the first overtime, senior midfielder Niki Molina gave the Wildcats their best opportunity for a goal in the closing minutes, but it was again saved by Mahoney.
Despite holding on for so long, the Wildcats finally led up a goal in the 106th minute of the game. A Villanova pass at midfield was picked off and the Huskies pounced on the breakaway. Jaydah Bedoya took a hard shot at Kopec, which she saved, but she deflected it back into play. UConn’s Jada Konte got to the deflection first, and she fired past Kopec and into the net to win the game for the Huskies.
A week later on Sunday, Oct. 23, the Wildcats played in their final home game of the season, falling to Butler, 3-0. The Wildcats conceded all three goals in the first half, and never challenged the Bulldogs.
Before the beginning of the game, the Wildcats honored all eight of their seniors: McClay, Molina, Allison Breed, Cici Fox, Brice McInroy, Tori Muller, Chloe O’Neill and Reagan Smith. These seniors have won 29 games over their four years as Wildcats, and in 2019 helped lead their team to the Big East Tournament semifinals for the first time in 10 years. The team has earned an overall total of 15 Big East All-Academic Team honors and has been named to Athletic Director Honor Roll 23 times.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Wildcats early, getting on the board in the fifth minute when Amanda Kowalski and Abigail Isger helped set up Alli Leonard, who fired across goal and into the opposite corner of the net. In the 31st minute, the Bulldogs were able to go up 2-0 when Isger scored on a pass from Julia Leonard, as Villanova was unable to clear after a fantastic save by Kopec, who tipped a shot onto the crossbar. To cap off this streak in the 37th minute, Katie Soderstorm scored the third and final goal of the game, as her mishit cross sailed over Kopec’s head and into the side netting,
The best chance for the Wildcats came in the 54th minute when freshman Lauren Belcoure found Fried at the top of the box. Fried broke away from two defenders and sent a strong shot at goal, but the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper, Emma Martin, made the save.
The final game of the Wildcats’ season will be on Thursday, Oct. 28, as the team travels to St. John’s in Queens, NY. The last time the Wildcats faced the Red Storm was on March 21, 2021, when they tied 2-2. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. and can be watched on BEDN on FloSports.