Wildcats Meet Three-Goal Quota, Edge Hofstra 3-2
Sept. 14, 2008
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Over the past two weekends, Villanova (7-0) has produced a four-part series - possibly titled `The 3-2 Win' - that now has allowed the team to match the second-longest winning streak to start a season in school history. The latest episode in the series was delivered on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the Penn Invitational at Rhodes Field by way of a hard-fought 3-2 win over Hofstra (2-4), the fourth consecutive victory that has ended with such a score.
This most recent installment in the series did not come easy for the Wildcats, who overcame the Pride twice tying the score and eventually won on a late own goal by Hofstra as Villanova scored on a set piece for the second time in the game. Sophomore Amy Greco (Media, Pa.) took a free kick from just beyond the center line and drilled a ball into the middle of a crowded box. Nobody from the Wildcats was able to get off a shot but there was no room for the Pride to easily clear the ball either and a header by defender Kariena Richards went backwards into the net with 1:19 remaining.
Villanova was outshot by its opponent for the first time all season as the Pride owned a 20-12 advantage. Unlike the past three games however, the Wildcats avoided falling behind thanks to a career-high nine saves from junior goalkeeper Molly Williams (Hinsdale, Ill.), who earned a spot on the all-tournament team with her play on Sunday. She had four saves in the first half and five more after halftime as Hofstra put steady pressure on the Villanova defense with hopes of taking the lead.
It never happened, though, as the Wildcats narrowly emerged undefeated for the 106th consecutive game in which they have scored the first goal. Villanova is 101-0-5 in such games since late in the 1999 season and have protected that streak in a variety of ways already this season, scoring first five times in seven outings.
Today's opening goal was the fourth score of the season for sophomore Justine Wollner (Downingtown, Pa.), who finished a well-executed offensive possession from just in front of the net. Junior Erin Byrnes (Sayville, N.Y.) dribbled into the box past the defense and crossed the ball from the left side to Wollner, who was unmarked in front of the goal and scored at 11:30.
It was just four minutes later that the Pride tied the score on a goal by Marie Curtin. The ball was bounced out of the box after a Hofstra corner kick but Curtin rocketed the loose ball from nearly 25 yards out and it curled under the crossbar to knot the score 1-1 at 15:48.
Scoring chances were mostly equal in the first half - the Pride outshot the Wildcats, 8-7, in the period - and Villanova retook the lead in the 39th minute when junior Jessica Carnevale (Princeton, N.J.) scored her first goal of the season. A free kick into the box from the left side by sophomore Rachel Schuyler (Cheshire, Conn.) sailed past a Wildcat forward looking for a header attempt but landed at the feet of Carnevale, whose one-timer restored the Villanova lead at 38:17.
The second half was when Hofstra appeared to gradually take control of the game and Tiffany Yovino tied the score in the 68th minute. The Pride crossed a ball into the box which was intercepted by Williams in front of the goal, but she was whistled for a foul after making contact with a Hofstra player while reaching up for the ball and the Pride were awarded a free kick inside the box. Villanova withstood the initial scoring attempt that ensued when Williams saved Marie Curtin's kick to restart play but couldn't come up with the loose ball and make an attempt to clear it. Yovino finally corralled the ball long enough to get off a shot that caromed off the crossbar and into the bottom of the goal.
The second equalizer of the day seemed to give Hofstra some attacking momentum and the Wildcats were back on their heels as regulation wound down. A pair of corner kicks by Schuyler went unredeemed and then a shot by Yovino with little more than two minutes left banked off the crossbar and out of play. It turned out to be the last chance of the game for the Pride, who fell behind a third time just 51 seconds later on the own goal.
Williams was joined on the all-tournament team by Wollner, Schuyler and freshman Kaitlin Ryan (Wayne, N.J.) as Villanova won a tournament championship for the third consecutive weekend. Wollner had a goal and two assists in the two games in Philadelphia, while Schuyler had one goal and one assist. Ryan was instrumental in the 3-2 win over tournament host Penn on Friday night, assisting on the first Wildcat goal and then scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals on feeds from Wollner. Williams led all goalkeepers with her 11 saves for the weekend.
Yovino finished with a game-high seven shots for Hofstra and Krystal Robens made one save for the Pride. Yovino and Jess Crankshaw were named to the all-tournament team.
Villanova begins conference play next Friday at home when it hosts Georgetown at 4 p.m. at the West Campus Soccer Complex.
NOTES: The Wildcats other 7-0 starts came in 2003 and 2006 ... The 2003 team eventually went 15-5-5 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, while the 2006 squad set a school mark by starting 10-0 and going undefeated for the first 15 games ... Villanova has now scored multiple goals in seven straight games for the first time ever, eclipsing the mark of six straight set in 1983 and matched in 1993 ... This is also the first time ever that the team has scored at least three goals in five straight games ... Meanwhile, the Wildcats extended to four the record they set on Friday for consecutive wins in which multiple goals were allowed ... Villanova has never before had four straight games end with the same score ... The Wildcats have now won 13 straight regular season tournament games and are 18-3-1 (.841) in tournament play since 1993.