Sept. 21, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senior goalkeeper Jillian Loyden (Vineland, N.J.) set a new school record with her 30th career shutout and Villanova (6-0-2, 1-0-0 BIG EAST) earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Georgetown (7-2-0, 0-1-0 BIG EAST) on Friday afternoon in its conference opener at North Kehoe Field. The Wildcats received a goal from sophomore Kelly Eagan (St. James, N.Y.) in the 72nd minute for the lone score of the game.
All four of Eagan's career goals have been game-winners and she capitalized on an opportunity set up on one of the team's seven corner kicks. Senior Kayce Blandford (Columbia, Md.) sent a ball into a scramble from the left side of the net and Eagan slid a shot past Hoya goalkeeper Jackie Desjardins. The corner kick came about after Desjardins leaped to save a header by senior Nikki Mabery (Phoenix, Ariz.).
Loyden had five saves in the game and stopped numerous other Georgetown possessions before the Hoyas could create scoring chances. She eclipsed the shutout record set by Chrissy Dolan (2000-03) and extended her current shutout streak to 236 minutes. Loyden has been scored on in just seven games since the beginning of the 2006 season.
"Setting the career shutout record is very impressive," Villanova head coach Ann Clifton said. "It is a long-term goal that means a lot to Jillian and we have talked before about this being a record she was striving for. There have been so many great goalkeepers at Villanova and for Jillian to now hold this record sets a new standard."
The opening minutes of the game featured a strong attack by Georgetown and Villanova struggled initially to gain possession of the ball. However, the Wildcats generated a string of scoring chances towards the end of the first half and carried that momentum into the second half. Villanova took three of its seven corner kicks in the last three minutes of the opening period and shots by Eagan and senior Kaley Guthrie (Ogdensburg, N.J.) as the final seconds ticked off the clock were just wide of the net.
Although the Hoyas stepped up their aggressiveness after the Wildcat goal, Villanova wasn't through generating scoring chances. In the 89th minute the Wildcats had a long possession deep inside Georgetown territory and Desjardins came out of the goal to try and intercept the ball. First Eagan and then Mabery launched consecutive shots at an empty net, only to see the ball hit hard off the crossbar to keep the margin at one goal.
"We really found ourselves offensively in today's game," Clifton said. "The score may not reflect that but the decisive factor for us was that we were able to put consistent pressure on their backs. That should be a really good sign of things to come for us."
The Wildcats are 5-0-1 in their first conference game since 2002 and have now opened conference play against Georgetown in each of the last three seasons. Villanova claimed a 2-0 victory against the Hoyas last season on the Main Line after playing to a 1-1 tie in 2005 at North Kehoe Field.
"It is very difficult to open conference play on the road, especially given some of the tough venues to play at in the BIG EAST," Clifton said. "In addition this was our first overnight trip of the year and I thought the team did an excellent job of focusing on what they needed to do in the game. I really feel like we have our legs under us now as we move forward."
Villanova plays its final non-conference game of the regular season on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. when it hosts Penn. The game is the second of a soccer doubleheader on campus, as the men's soccer team hosts nationally-ranked BIG EAST rival Notre Dame at Noon. The women's soccer team will celebrate Youth Soccer Month on Sunday and several local youth teams will take part in festivities before and after the game.