Wildcats Pounce in Second Half, Defeat Pittsburgh 3-1
Sept. 30, 2011
VILLANOVA, Pa.--Redshirt freshman midfielder Stephanie Myers (Downingtown, Pa.) and senior forward Katie Ryan (Wayne, N.J.) each scored goals in the first five minutes of the decisive second half and Villanova (5-6-2, 1-4 Big East) snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh (1-8-4, 0-3-2 Big East) at the West Campus Soccer Complex on Friday afternoon.
After scoring a total of just one goal in their first six conference games the Wildcats received one tally each from three different players in picking up the squad's first BIG EAST win of the season. Freshman defender Victoria Gersh (Silver Spring, Md.) netted her first career goal in the first half, while Myers and Ryan struck early in the second period to put the game away.
Villanova manufactured scoring chances frequently and with ease throughout the game and eight different players all fired off at least one shot. The quality of the Wildcats possessions much more closely resembled the offensive production the team used to run out to a 4-0-2 start earlier this season.
"We had been so desperate to score in some of the past few games that I started seeing some the players doing things they wouldn't otherwise do, such as dribbling for too long or shooting from bad positions," Villanova head coach John Byford said. "The difference today was having our forwards show better shot selection and having everyone shoot well from a distance to give us two goals from outside the 18-yard box."
The game was tied 1-1 at the midway point but Myers scored what proved to be the game-winning goal just over two minutes into the second half. Senior defender Megan Verdeur (Levittown, Pa.) played the ball in to Katie Ryan on a restart and Ryan delivered the ball to Myers in the middle of the box. Myers registered her first collegiate game-winning goal with her goal in the 48th minute.
Less than two minutes later Katie Ryan blasted in her team-high seventh goal of the season to give Villanova as much insurance as it would need in the game. Senior midfielder Katy Nagy (Bellmore, N.Y.) passed the ball to Ryan, who finished from just outside the top-left corner of the 18-yard box at 49:23 for the third Wildcats score of the game.
Villanova owned a commanding 15-7 edge in shots during the game. In comparison to the team's recent outings it was not so much the Wildcats ability to control the flow of play as it was the outcome of the team's chances in opponent territory.
"As far as time of possession goes I don't think there was too much of a difference to our other games," Byford said. "The quality of our possessions was much better this afternoon. Instead of shooting from too far a distance or getting rid of the ball too quickly we picked our spots well."
Perhaps the tone for the Villanova offense was set with the goal that Gersh scored in the 11th minute, when she raced down the field and lofted a shot from 25 yards out into the back of the net to open the scoring at 10:36 and give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period the Panthers tied the score at 1-1 when Ashley Cuba tipped a ball into the net on a deflection off of a failed clear. Her goal at 30:52 got Pittsburgh on the board and eventually sent the teams into halftime still tied. That all changed with the two early goals in the second period and Villanova never let up on the pressure it put on the Panthers defense.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jami Kranich (Hamden, Conn.) tallied three saves to earn the win for the Wildcats, including one stop in the first half and two saves in the second half.
Pittsburgh goalkeeper Kristina Rioux also had three saves, including stopping a penalty kick by Villanova with less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
Prior to today's game the Wildcats had played three of their first four BIG EAST games on the road. The meeting against the Panthers started a four-game home stand and Villanova will host No. 25 West Virginia on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
"Getting a win today gives us some confidence going forward," Byford said. "We put in two things today that we had been missing, namely goals and wins. West Virginia is a strong opponent but I am certainly much happier going into a game against them coming off of a good win."