Oct. 16, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Senior forward Katie Ryan (Wayne, N.J.) scored her 12th goal of the season in the 62nd minute to tie the game at 1-1 but Villanova (8-8-2, 4-6 BIG EAST) was beaten in the closing minutes by Notre Dame (8-6-3, 5-3-2 BIG EAST), which scored twice in the final six minutes to tally a 3-1 win at Alumni Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Ryan delivered only the third goal that the Wildcats have ever scored on the road versus the Fighting Irish when she finished off a breakaway scoring chance for Villanova at the 61:40 mark. Senior forward Erin Ryan (Doylestown, Pa.) won a ball in the midfield and fed it to junior forward Heidi Sabatura (Lawrenceville, N.J.) near the top of the 18-yard box. Ryan was ready and in scoring position when she got the ball from Sabatura, who picked up her team-high seventh assist of the season.
There were long periods in the game where Notre Dame controlled possession of the ball but it only took once opportunity for the Wildcats to completely change the contest. Ryan scored on the only shot on goal that Villanova managed during the contest, while the Fighting Irish placed 11 shots on the frame.
Still, the game entered the closing minutes of regulation deadlocked at 1-1 with the Wildcats clearly starting to pick up steam in the attacking third. The tie was snapped in the 85th minute, however, when a two-part sequence in front of the Villanova goal allowed Notre Dame to go back in front by a 2-1 margin.
Lauren Bohaboy took a shot that sophomore goalkeeper Jami Kranich (Hamden, Conn.) leaped for and the ball wound up wedged between the reach of Kranich and the crossbar. It bounced off the crossbar and Elizabeth Tucker got the first touch on the loose ball before making a pass that led to a header into the left side of the net by Melissa Henderson.
With the Wildcats furiously trying to develop a scoring chance that could lead to a second equalizer the Fighting Irish put the game out of reach with a header goal by Tucker with only 1:20 remaining in the contest.
Kranich continued her outstanding play of late and wound up making six saves, with four of those stops coming in the second half. She also thwarted plenty of other potential scoring chances by Notre Dame by making a number of big defensive plays in front of the goal.
The strong defense by Villanova throughout the afternoon was a team effort on the back line. Senior defender Megan Verdeur (Levittown, Pa.) and sophomore defender Taylor Houck (Chalfont, Pa.) each cleared the ball away from the net for team saves in the second half. Verdeur stopped a shot by Mandy Laddish at point-blank range early in the period and Houck made a sliding save to knock a ball away just 33 seconds before the Wildcats goal that tied the game.
Villanova plays the final game of the regular season at Georgetown on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
NOTES: Prior to Katie Ryan's goal the Wildcats had been shut out in their last four road games against the Fighting Irish ... The last Villanova goal at Notre Dame came in 2001 and the only previous score for the team in a road game versus the Irish came in 1996 ... Ryan, who already ranked third in school history in career goals scored, tallied the 40th goal of her career with her tally today ... The last game of the regular season will determine the final playoff picture in the BIG EAST National Division ... The Wildcats are currently tied for fourth place with Seton Hall, with both teams having 12 points in the conference standings ... Rutgers is one point behind with 11 points and finishes the regular season at Seton Hall on Friday evening.