Wildcats Fall to Washington State, 1-0, in NCAA Tournament
Nov. 14, 2009
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - In the first round of the NCAA Championship on Friday night, Villanova (11-6-5) saw its 2009 season come to an end in a 1-0 loss to Washington State (14-5-2) at Ludwig Field on the campus of the University of Maryland. With the loss, the Wildcats concluded their 11th consecutive season with a winning record and at least 10 victories.
This season marked the first NCAA Championship appearance since 2006 for Villanova, which made the most of their opportunity against the Cougars. Seven different players fired off multiple shots for the Wildcats, who owned a 16-9 shot advantage for the game, including 10-5 in the second half. The game wound up being determined on a goal scored with exactly 16 minutes left on a soft header just in front of the goalmouth.
After falling behind late in the contest, Villanova mounted its most furious series of charges at the Washington State goal. The Wildcats took five unanswered shots down the stretch after the Cougars goal, including three straight shots in the last four minutes which all came close to evening the score. Senior forward Grace Hawkins (Northport, N.Y.) fired a shot on goal early in the 87th minute, and the attempt was closely followed by one from sophomore forward Megan Verdeur (Levittown, Pa.) that was just wide of the net.
Such tenacity was a good representation of Villanova's ability to create scoring chances during the match when it had the ball in the attacking third. Even the final minute of the contest featured plenty of action as the Wildcats fought to stay in the game. Senior midfielder Erin Byrnes (Sayville, N.Y.) had a shot from the left side of the net go wide with 53 seconds to play but Villanova won the ball back and eventually had just enough time to take a corner kick with 10 seconds left for the final chance of the night.
Hawkins, Verdeur and Byrnes had two shots apiece in the game and junior midfielder Rachel Schuyler (Cheshire, Conn.) led all players with three shots. The Wildcats wound up with four shots on goal, all of which were saved by Washington State goalkeeper Meghan Berlingo.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior goalkeeper Molly Williams (Hinsdale, Ill.) had two saves for Villanova, which did an excellent job of suppressing a Cougars offense which had scored 41 goals in 20 games entering Friday night's contest. Washington State had three shots in the game's first 20 minutes, then just two more over the next 50 minutes of play until the middle of the second half.
The Cougars struck for the game's only goal at the 74:00 mark when Mallory Fox headed in her second goal of the season. Maggie Dougher played a ball up from the top of the box to Carly Dobratz, who headed it in Fox's direction. Fox was in position directly in front of the goalmouth with other Washington State players in the area and her header went to the back of the net.
Tonight's game wound up marking the end of the collegiate careers for six Wildcat seniors, who went 49-21-14 (.667) over the course of their four seasons at Villanova. Senior defender Kelly Eagan (St. James, N.Y.) started every single one of those games and is now second all-time in program history with 84 games started. The other members of the Wildcats senior class include midfielder Jessica Carnevale (Princeton, N.J.) and defender Samantha Moskal (Chantilly, Va.).
NOTES: Villanova made its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance this season ... The other trips came in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 ... The Wildcats are 4-5-2 all-time in championship play ... Tonight's loss waas the first in five games at a neutral site in the tournament ... Washington State advances to a second round game on Sunday afternoon against site host Maryland, which defeated Monmouth, 4-0, earlier on Friday.