Aug. 19, 2010
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The 28th varsity season of Villanova women's soccer kicks off on Friday evening when the Wildcats visit Temple for the 2010 season opener. The game is set for 5 p.m. at the Ambler Sports Complex.
Friday's opener comes on the heels of an enthusiastic preseason camp for Villanova, which opens the year with 14 returning players and seven newcomers. Throughout the program's history, the Wildcats have experienced a great deal of success, most recently with 11 consecutive winning seasons.
When it comes to season openers, Villanova is 14-11-2 (.556) all-time, including 5-5-2 when it starts a season on the road. A 4-0 win over the Owls in last year's season opener at the West Campus Soccer Complex was the ninth in a row for the Wildcats.
Villanova has had a great deal of success against Big Five opponents over the years and go into this game against Temple with a 36-2-3 (.915) mark all-time against its city rivals. In head-to-head meetings, the Wildcats are 5-0-2 against the Owls, with the two ties coming in 1992 and 1995.
In a preseason poll of league head coaches, the Wildcats were chosen to finish fourth in the BIG EAST National Division in 2010, a spot which matches where the team finished last season. The top five teams in each BIG EAST division qualify for the conference tournament, with the fourth place teams hosting a game in the first round.
"I think this team can be very good," third year head coach John Byford said. "We are ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in our division entering the season, which is a place line we met last season, so I guess the other BIG EAST coaches also think we have a chance to be pretty good."
The returning group of players to Villanova includes a preseason All-BIG EAST selection in junior forward Katie Ryan (Wayne, N.J.), who ranks first among current players on the team in every offensive category. She has tallied 19 goals, 11 assists and 49 points in two seasons, with seven game-winning goals.
Ryan and sophomore forward Heidi Sabatura (Lawrenceville, N.J.) were each named All-BIG EAST second team honorees last season, with Sabatura also becoming the first player in program history to receive the league's Rookie of the Year award. Sabatura had seven goals and five assists during her freshman season on the Main Line. In all, the Wildcats return 73 percent of their offense from a year ago.
"We did well in the BIG EAST last season, got to the NCAA Tournament and did well there," Byford said. "A lot of the key players from that success are back and they have another year of experience which has made them more mature as soccer players. We should continue to get better this year."