VILLANOVA, Pa. - In the final game of the Villanova Classic, the Wildcats (2-4-2) put together a dominating second half performance led by the two goals of sophomore Victoria Gersh (Silver Spring, Md.) to lift themselves to victory over La Salle (3-3-2), 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.
Finding themselves down 2-0 at intermission, Villanova stepped up the performance in the second stanza and posted three unanswered goals in just over 32 minutes of play, including the game-tying and game-winning scores within 51 seconds of one another. Junior Kendra Jones (Hershey, Pa.) notched the first goal of her career to tie the game at 2-2 with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation before Gersh knocked home the game-winning score with 9:41 left in the game for the victory.
"It was a very exciting win, especially having been on the down side of everything recently. This was really motivational to get ready for the start of BIG EAST play," said Gersh following the contest. Head Coach John Byford continued, "In the second half we started anticipating more. We had a good group that seemed to find their rhythm and we had a lot of opportunities on net and were making good runs to goal."
Senior Heidi Sabatura's (Lawrenceville, Md.) two assists and Jones' game-tying goal helped pace the Wildcats to their first victory since their opening game against American on August 17th. With her assists today, Sabatura climbs to fourth place all-time with 25 helpers at Villanova and is just four assists shy of becoming the career assists leader in school history. Additionally, the senior forward also moved into a tie for 9th place all-time with 67 career points.
La Salle got off to a quick start to begin the game, with Courtney Niemiec scoring just three minutes into the contest off a scramble in front of the net from an initial shot from Jackie Cammarata. The Explorers kept adding the pressure on the Villanova defense in the entire first half and notched their second score at the 8:14 mark when Kelsey Haycook tapped in a rebound to put La Salle up 2-0.
Despite the score, the Wildcats battled back and saw several opportunities from their four first half corner kicks and five shots on net.
Villanova came out with a renewed energy in the second stanza and saw several early opportunities to begin the second 45. Gersh capitalized on the second of Villanova's seven corner kicks of the half when her serve found its way to the far post and into the goal for the first Wildcat score of the day.
The Wildcats settled into a rhythm in the final minutes of the contest, with Jones and Gersh scoring near identical goals off rebounds from the La Salle keeper and tapping the loose balls into the net for the scores.
In a dominating performance, Villanova outshot the Explorers 11-5 in the second half and 16-11 for the day.
Defensively, senior goalkeeper Kelsey Quinn (Mt. Airy, Md.) made three saves in the victory while La Salle's Jessica Wiggins collected five stops in the defeat. Villanova junior Taylor Houck (Chalfont, Pa.) squashed numerous runs from the La Salle attack and was solid throughout the day with her consistency in the backfield, assisted by Jones, Kathryn Rayner (Needham, Mass.), and Emily Damstrom (Short Hills, N.J.).
The Wildcats are set to begin the BIG EAST portion of their schedule this Friday, Sept. 14th and Sunday, Sept. 16th when they travel to Rutgers and Seton Hall to take on the Scarlet Knights and Pirates. Game time is slated for 8:00 p.m. on Friday in Piscataway, N.J. and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday in South Orange, N.J.