Nov. 4, 2011
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - No. 3 seed Villanova (8-11) made their 10th appearance in program history at the BIG EAST Championships on Friday afternoon against No. 2 seed Syracuse (17-3) and the Orange scored two early goals to give them an insurmountable lead on the way to a 3-0 Syracuse win that put an end to the Wildcats season. The Villanova defense and particularly senior Megan Goelz (Yardley, Pa.) were stout on the back line in keeping a powerful Orange offense in check for much of the afternoon, but in the end, it was too much to overcome.
Villanova had an early opportunity with some pressure from junior Amy Jackson (Columbia, Pa.) as the Wildcats attempted to jump out to the early lead, but they were unable to sustain it.
Syracuse responded with some pressure of their own about five minutes into the game as senior Martina Loncarica attempted a shot between her legs with her back to the net, but the shot went wide off the side of the net as Goelz was in perfect position.
Syracuse continued to apply the pressure as they had a corner, which the Orange excelled at during the season, but the Wildcat defense was up to the challenge when sophomore Keira Zambon (Medford, N.J.) blocked the shot off the stick of Loncarica to keep the game scoreless.
The game continued to go back-and-forth from one offensive zone to the other, until Syracuse notched the first goal of the game to take the lead in the 10th minute. Lauren Brooks dove at a loose ball in front of Goelz and slid it into the bottom left corner for her third goal of the season, two of which have now come against Villanova.
Zambon, junior Kristen Davila (Holmdel, N.J.), senior Jordan Lynn (Charlottesville, Va.), freshman Maddy Harding (Warrington, Pa.), and junior Moriah Allen (Langhorne, Pa.) continued to sustain a strong defensive effort early in the game against a talented Orange attack to keep Villanova down by just one goal. Goelz was an important part of that back line as well as she kicked away a shot by Leonie Geyer in the 18th minute to keep the Wildcats within striking distance.
On their third penalty corner of the game, Syracuse added an insurance goal in the 21st minute to take a 2-0 lead. Iona Holloway deflected in a shot from the point off the stick of Liz McInerney to extend the Orange advantage.
Villanova responded with some pressure of their own as freshman Jessica Swoboda (Hanover Township, Pa.) attempted to dribble through the circle from the right wing, but was denied by the Syracuse defense. Less than a minute later, freshman Lauren Wilson (Hummelstown, Pa.) sent a pass through the middle of the defense, but nobody could get a stick on it as the ball rolled over the opposite sideline.
Goelz and the defense continued to stand tall toward the end of the first half and attempted to give the offense a chance to inch closer. Junior Olivia Maggitti (West Chester, Pa.) intercepted an Orange pass around midfield and she fed it down to freshman Leah High (Green Lane, Pa.), but a Syracuse defender knocked her attempt away.
Villanova's best offensive chance came after a Syracuse green card with under a minute to go in the half followed by a Syracuse foul that gave Villanova an untimed corner. On the corner, Kristen Davila's shot was deflected wide, but a foul by Syracuse allowed the Wildcats another untimed corner. The Wildcats attempted the same play on the second corner, which produced the same result which gave Villanova one final chance. On that chance, Keira Zambon's shot flew wide right as the teams went into halftime with Syracuse leading 2-0.
As was the case in the first half, the Villanova defense was tough early as Goelz didn't get challenged until more than five minutes into the half when BIG EAST Co-Offensive Player of the Year Heather Susek got off a strong attempt, but Goelz came out of the net to halt the Orange attack.
Villanova again tried to use the penalty corner to get on the scoreboard as they had back-to-back attempts. On the first penalty corner, Kristen Davila's shot was blocked away, but the Syracuse defense committed another foul to give the second corner. Again, Davila fired another shot on net that was kicked away by the Syracuse goalie Leann Stiver and the rebound just slid past Swoboda next to the net as the Orange maintained their two-goal advantage.
With 25:55 remaining in the game, Syracuse's Heather Susek received a 5-minute yellow card which gave the Wildcats a great opportunity.
Almost immediately, the Wildcats put together back-to-back corners for the third time in the game. On the first one, Olivia Maggitti fired a shot that was kicked by a defender that gave the Wildcats their seventh corner of the day. On that corner, Davila fired yet another shot that was deflected and sailed high and wide of the net.
As the 5-minute penalty expired, Syracuse missed on their fifth penalty corner of the day as Geyer sent the shot wide and Villanova's defense continued to impress. Goelz followed up that Syracuse attack by making a great blocker save on Loncarica with less than 20 minutes to go in the game.
With 9:55 remaining in the game, yellow cards were assessed to Swoboda and Iona Holloway as Villanova was trying to climb back into the game.
In the 62nd minute with both players in the penalty box still, Syracuse put the game away with a goal by Kelsey Millman, who scored her 18th of the season which gave her the most in the BIG EAST. She deflected in a shot off the stick of Leonie Geyer that went over the shoulder of Goelz to give the Orange a 3-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
Villanova was unable to get anything by Leann Stiver as their season came to an end in Syracuse against the Orange by a score of 3-0.
Despite the defeat, head coach Joanie Milhous was positive after the game. She said, "I thought our defense played great and having this experience will give them a little taste so they'll want to get back next year".
Davila led the team in shots with five and Goelz had four saves, but her work seemed much greater as Syracuse had 18 shots.
The loss sends Villanova to 4-9 in the BIG EAST Championship in their history.