VILLANOVA, Pa. – In a milestone day at West Campus Soccer Complex, the Villanova Wildcats defeated No. 11 Georgetown 1-0 in the final game of the regular season.
Freshman Emily Damstrom finished a near-perfect feed from senior Heidi Sabatura to the far post in the 28th minute to notch the game-winning goal and the lone score for the afternoon. The victory marked the first time the Wildcats have defeated the Hoyas since 2007 and the first win at home against Georgetown since 2006.
With the victory, the Wildcats nearly assured themselves a home contest in the first round of the Big East Championship and a possible bye into the quarterfinals depending on the outcome of the remaining conference games on Friday and Saturday.
Head Coach John Byford said, “The difference was the attitude of the team. There was a lot of determination out on the field… This team has never been on the winning side of a Georgetown match and they put it all out there.”
The Wildcats outshot the Hoyas by a 10-3 margin for the first half and held a 4-4 draw in corner kicks for the stanza.
With plenty of opportunities on goal, it was only a matter of time before the Wildcats knocked one home for Damstrom’s second goal of the year and Sabatura’s 28th assist of her career. With the assist, Sabatura moves into a tie for first place on the all-time assists for Villanova.
“Heidi and I were connecting all game and when she was running at the Georgetown back four, I backed off and she fed me a great ball,” Damstrom said.
The Wildcats carried that first half momentum into the final 45 but the Hoyas were hungry to get back into the game. In the 59th minute, GU’s Jessica Clinton launched a hard shot to the far post but was stopped by Villanova’s Taylor Houck for a great defensive play. Junior goalkeeper Jami Kranich had two incredible saves in the 74th and 77th minutes when she made a duo of diving stops to deflect would-be goals from Kaitlin Brenn and Daphne Corboz to keep the Wildcats out of harm’s way.
The defensive unit of Houck, sophomores Kathryn Rayner, Kaitlin Hogman and freshman Rhea Barghash played arguably their best game of the season, and, coupled with adjustments in the Villanova midfield to counter the potent Georgetown attack, helped stifle the Hoya offense that outshot the Wildcats 16-2 for the second half.
Despite the second-half shot advantage, Kranich posted five saves in the victory while GU’s Emma Newins collected four stops in the defeat. The contest had no playoff implications for the Hoyas – Georgetown had solidified a home game and bye to the quarterfinals following their matches last weekend.
“Houck, Barghash and Jami all made themselves big…and had some great plays. The field was wet and we had the opportunity to move the game to turf, but our girls wanted to play on this field…and it showed. Now we have the possibility of a home-field advantage against Connecticut or Providence or even a bye to the quarterfinals,” Byford said.