Sept. 23, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa. - A well-polished offensive performance made the difference in the final non-conference game of the regular season and Villanova (7-0-2) defeated Penn (5-2-1), 4-0, Sunday afternoon on Youth Soccer Day at the West Campus Soccer Complex. The Wildcats have now gone undefeated in non-conference games played in August and September in each of the last two seasons.
Games this week against Georgetown and Sunday's contest against Penn have shown no doubt that the Villanova offense has rounded into top form as the team enters the most grueling part of its schedule. The Wildcats led 1-0 at halftime and dumped in three second half goals thanks to strong pressure from the front line.
Three different players had a goal and an assist in the game and senior Nikki Mabery (Phoenix, Ariz.) opened the scoring just 9:32 into the contest with her fifth goal of the season. Eight of the 14 points recorded by Villanova in the game came from seniors, and the trio of Mabery and classmates Stacia Hartung (Rochester, N.Y.) and Kaley Guthrie (Ogdensburg, N.J.) combined for the first goal.
Guthrie and Hartung played the ball on a give-and-go straight into the Penn defense and Hartung eventually directed a ball at the net from the far left side. The ball came to Mabery near the right post and she was just able to tap the ball past Quakers goalkeeper Cailly Carroll.
Carroll saved three shots in the first half and made numerous plays to keep a determined Penn offense within striking distance, but in the second half the floodgates opened on the third goal of the season from freshman Justine Wollner (Downingtown, Pa.). Junior Erin Hardiman (Galloway, N.J.) played a long ball downfield and Wollner played past Carroll to the left side.
The Wildcats sported a 4-3-3 look for parts of the game with three players on the attack. The team has played in 4-4-2 formation many times this season but today players such as Hardiman, Hartung and Guthrie were able to stay involved on the attack. After assisting on the second goal of the game, Hardiman got one of her own in the 74th minute when Mabery crossed a ball from the right side. Hardiman was positioned at the left goalpost and headed the ball to the back of the net.
Less than eight minutes later, the final goal of the game from Hartung may have been the most spectacular of the four. It began with a long punt from senior goalkeeper Jillian Loyden (Vineland, N.J.), who notched her second career assist when her punt landed and was passed by sophomore Jessica Carnevale (Princeton, N.J.) to Hartung in the middle of the box. Hartung wound up and slid the ball into the left side for her fourth goal of the season.
Villanova finished the game with a 16-8 shot advantage and scored on three of its four shots on goal after halftime. The Wildcats also generated five corner kicks during a tense game in which 26 foul calls guided the flow of play.
Despite the final score, the teams did trade possessions throughout the contest and the Quakers demonstrated their own aggressiveness in the attacking third. Jessica Fuccello and Mara Fintzi combined for five of the team's eight shots and Loyden made four saves to keep Penn scoreless.
Loyden recorded her 31st career shutout to add to her newly-set school record and earned her 44th career win in net for Villanova. The Wildcats began the game ranked ninth in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense and improved on both marks in the game.
The remaining 10 games on the regular season docket are all BIG EAST Conference matches for Villanova, which will play a critical game against Rutgers this coming Friday at 4 p.m. at the West Campus Soccer Complex. The Scarlet Knights and Wildcats will be battling for position in the league's National Division.
Today's win marked the team's 100th shutout since the arrival of head coach Ann Clifton in 1997 ... The team has posted three straight shutouts and has outscored the opposition 27-2 this season ... Loyden owns a 0.24 goals-against average this season and 0.68 mark for her career ... Her first career assist came in a 5-0 win over Robert Morris last season ... Mabery moved into sole possession of fifth place in school history with her 29th career goal.
Villanova Head Coach Ann Clifton...
On Kaley Guthrie and Stacia Hartung: Stacia was outstanding today and Kaley really anchored our play in most of the situations leading up to our first goal. Kaley was phenomenal on Friday at Georgetown and gave us a spark off the bench. Today she worked so hard up top to create chances for us and did another outstanding job. Stacia has been terrific at taking advantage of scoring opportunities all year long.
On Nikki Mabery: Nikki is simply a goal scorer and she is getting the job done for us. She has played with a great deal of confidence and has been a consistent scoring threat from day one this season.
On the team's play in its last two games: It is nice to think that we are a good team and for other people to say it but now we are starting to prove it with our play on the field and that feels even better. Our last two games have lifted the confidence level of the whole team. Today's game featured a great environment on Youth Day and we came out to protect our home field against a local opponent. I was very proud of the way we challenged Penn for the entire 90 minutes.
On what the team has gained from its last two victories: Coming out of the Georgetown game I think we showed that we are a team to be reckoned with. The players have worked very hard and I think they felt that we hadn't really found ourselves until we came out of that game against Georgetown the other day. This team is a very close group and that is what our recent play has been about. The players are out there competing for each other and playing with a lot of character. And it is starting to be that time of year for us also. The BIG EAST schedule seems to bring something out in all of us and it feels good to be going in the right direction.
On the upcoming game against Rutgers: It is an important game in the standings and it is going to be a great game to see. Rutgers is a phenomenal team.
Junior midfielder Erin Hardiman...
On the midfield group: I felt this season that it was really easy to come in and start playing together as a group. Most have us have been here for at least two to three years and it feels like we all have been playing together for a long time, even the freshmen. We came in this year knowing what was expected of us and what we had to do to help the whole team. As a group we work very well together and it is great to be out there doing the things that we are right now.
On having played every position on the field at Villanova: When the other team has the ball it is everyone's job to get back and help out defensively but I am comfortable having played in different spots when I am on the field. I will say that I like being able to help out up top on the front line. I try to be able to get into the attack and help the team try and score goal.
On the timing of her goal in today's game: I knew as soon as Nikki got the ball that she would get the cross off and we have been working in practice on getting our runs organized in the box. The day before the game we worked on that so that there would be someone at the back post and the near post every time we have a chance to play a ball in. We did a great job of that today on some of the goals.
On the Rutgers game: It is always great to play Rutgers because you know it will be a bloodbath and everyone on both teams will have their "A" game. We all have friends on the team and vice versa. It is awesome to play against them and give it all you've got. We had a great win against Georgetown and in today's game so we will be ready to go against Rutgers coming off our practices this coming week.