Wildcats Battle to 1-1 Draw vs. Radford in Season Opener
Aug 23, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats kicked off the 2013-14 sport season this afternoon and battled the Radford Highlanders to a 1-1 double-overtime draw at West Campus Soccer Complex. Sophomore Rhea Barghash (Bridgewater, N.J.) netted the game-tying goal in the 46th minute off an in-swinging corner kick to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard, but Villanova couldn't find the game-winner to finish off the Highlanders for 2013 season kickoff.
With today's draw, Villanova is now 16-11-4 (.581) all-time in season openers and is unbeaten in the first game of the season for the last 13 years. It also marked the second-straight season the Wildcats has started three freshmen in their opening contest.
Head Coach John Byford stated following the match, "Radford has consistently won their conference and they're tipped to win it again this year. They've a good team. We were looking for a bit more composure in front of the goal and we changed a couple of personnel in the second half, but overall we had a good effort."
Villanova had plenty of opportunities in the attacking third of the field but couldn't get the ball across the goal line in the closing minutes. After finding themselves down 1-0 just 14 minutes into the match, the Wildcats regrouped and started to find their stride and composure in the following minutes. Radford's Julie Ruh'e slipped a ball to Sahar Aflaki from behind the 18 and finished to the far post to get the Highlanders on the scoreboard to gain the early lead.
Despite the goal, Villanova outshot Radford by a 7-2 margin and held a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks for the first half.
After personnel changes at the start of the second stanza the Wildcats got on the board just 1:34 into play when Barghash lined up to take a corner kick from the left side of the pitch. The shot curled into the high right post just outside the reach of Radford goalkeeper Che' Brown to tie the game at 1-1.
Barghash stated, "I heard Fran [Kulas] say overshoot the ball since our corners had been falling short. I just hit it well and it had great curve on it." She continued, "After you score you immediately as team want to try to get another one, but you don't want to overplay. We just tried to relax and play our game after that."
The Wildcats had several opportunities in the closing minutes of the second half with Taylor Houck (Chalfont, Pa.), Emily Damstrom (Short Hills, N.J.), Katie Martin (Dallas, Texas) and Victoria Gersh (Silver Spring, Md.) registering shots. Neither team could connect as regulation ran out and the squads headed into extra time.
Overtime was highlighted by the defensive efforts of both sides with three would-be goals blocked by defenders. Villanova had two similar chances at the 95:37 and 96:41 marks but smart defensive positioning by Radford thwarted the opportunities.
Senior Stephanie Myers (Frisco, Texas) gave Villanova a spark subbing in with four minutes left to play in the second overtime period and found herself with the ball inside the 18, but Radford tackled Myers to play the ball outside their defensive end. A Highlander corner kick with 10 seconds remaining closed out the contest at a 1-1 draw for both sides.
Defensively, Villanova senior goalkeeper Jami Kranich (Hamden, Conn.) tallied one save while Radford's Brown collected five in the tie. Villanova will return to action in just a few short days when they take on No. 17 Maryland on Monday, August 26th. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. in College Park, Md.
NOTES: Villanova is 16-11-4 (.581) all-time in season openers and is unbeaten in the first game of the season in the last 13 years... Dating back to the start of the 2001 season the Wildcats are now 11-0-2 in season openers, with the two ties coming in today's match and in a 1-1 draw at home against James Madison in 2001... With today's draw, Villanova is now 23-7-5 (.729) all-time in the month of August... Villanova had three freshmen in the starting lineup in the season opener for the second straight season.