WSOC Erupts in Senior Day Win Over Villanova

Oct. 20, 2013

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – On a clear and crisp fall afternoon that saw the Seton Hall women’s soccer program honor eight members of the team who played their final regular season game at Owen T. Carroll Field, seniors Ashley Clarke (Paramus, N.J.) and Katie Ritter (Hagerstown, Md.) provided the first two scores while classmate Brittney Albrecht (Mahwah, N.J.) added another in an offensive explosion that ended in a 5-0 victory over visiting Villanova.

The margin of victory was the second-largest against a BIG EAST opponent in school history for Seton Hall (5-9-2, 3-4-0), ranking behind only a 6-0 win over former conference member Pittsburgh during the 1997 campaign.

The Hall entered the afternoon coming off four-straight one-goal losses in which they had often created the better opportunities and perhaps energized by their last opportunity to play in front of their home fans, the Pirates were able to put it all together on Sunday, resulting in a resounding rout of the Wildcats.

As is typical in BIG EAST play, the action was physical from the outset and in the 18th minute, Clarke was issued a yellow card for a foul with Villanova in an advanced position. On the ensuing free kick, VU’s Emily Damstrom was overly aggressive in her pursuit of the ball and was shown a straight red card, forcing the Wildcats to play with 10 for the remainder of the match.

Villanova held tight until just past the half-hour mark when SHU was able to translate space and opportunity into the first and ultimately game-winning score. With the Pirates in possession, freshman defender Cathy Chukuka (Marlboro, N.J.), who had worked her into the attacking zone, fed Clarke who had her back to goal. Clarke was able to touch and turn into an open area, dribble towards net and unleash an elevated shot that sailed past a diving Jami Kranich and inside the left post to put the Pirates on top for good.

The goal was the third of the season for Clarke who now has 13 points (3G, 7A) on the year and her second game-winner in BIG EAST play after she also provided the decisive strike in a 3-1 victory over #25 Butler on September 29.

Less than 20 seconds ticked off the game clock before the Pirates’ struck again as off the restart, sophomore defender Melissa Blevins (Laurel Springs, N.J.) pinched in from her outside back position to stop the Villanova rush with a booming clearance. Her ball fell perfectly for a streaking Ritter to run on to, and after sneaking in behind the VU back line, she rifled it past Kranich for her seventh goal of 2013.

The goals came in such quick succession, that even Twitter couldn’t keep up:

With the score, Ritter became the third Pirate ever to reach the 50-point mark for her career and with 23 goals in a Seton Hall uniform; she trails Courtney Wood by just three for second-most in school history. Her seven goals also match a single-season personal best and as the Pirates’ leading scorer with 15 points; she matches her previous high set during a 2010 season in which she took home All-BIG EAST Rookie Team honors.

For Chukuka and Blevins, the assists were the first points of their respective collegiate careers.

After taking the 2-0 lead into the break, the second half produced more of the same for the Pirates as Seton Hall wore down a short-handed Villanova squad with consistent pressure.

In the 63rd minute, midfielder Amie Ruhe (Monrovia, Md.) nearly became the third senior to put her name on the scoresheet on Senior Day when she let go a right-footed shot that rang back off the post.

The Wildcats were able to hold the deficit at two for the first 30 minutes of the second period but soon after re-entering in the 73rd minute, freshman Sarah Cortes (Paramus, N.J.) orchestrated a late-game charge that removed all doubt from the equation.

In the 79th minute, Cortes worked her way towards the end line to the right of the Villanova net and pulled it back for sophomore Alexis Urbanski (Aberdeen, N.J.) who had alertly taken advantage of a converging defense and crept into open space in the center of the area. With the ball played to her feet, Urbanski did the rest, slotting it home for her second goal of the campaign.

Less than four minutes later, Cortes was able to win the ball on the left wing and play it to a waiting Albrecht who had an opening near the top of the box and the senior tied a ribbon on her final home match with the fourth goal of her career.

The onslaught was not complete however as in the 87th minute, Cortes and Albrecht combined with junior Angie Shehaj (East Brunswick, N.J.) for the Pirates’ final score of the afternoon. Cortes sent in a cross from the right side that Shehaj won the battle in the air for, deftly heading it down towards the near post and eventually over the goal line to notch her first goal of the season and her second as a Pirate.

Albrecht was also credited with an assist on the play and both she and Cortes finished the day with a team-high three points. With the performance, Cortes is now the team’s third-leading scorer with six points (1G, 4A) in her debut season.

The Wildcats were limited to five total shots, two of which were on net but both were stopped by red-shirt senior keeper Jennifer Pettigrew (Kearny, N.J.). Despite picking up a hand injury that forced her out of Thursday’s contest against #20/#10 Marquette, Pettigrew returned to the field on Sunday and registered the 10th shutout of her career and her fourth of the year.

Seton Hall has now defeated Villanova (6-7-3, 3-3-1) by virtue of a shutout in four consecutive seasons, outscoring the Wildcats by a total of 11-0 over that span.

Prior to the game, Albrecht, Clarke, Pettigrew, Ruhe and Ritter joined midfielders Meghan Hayes (Fredon, N.J.) and Marie Klemme (Berlin, Germany) in being honored for their extensive contributions to the program during their careers. Junior defender Alyssa Stipcak (Mt. Airy, Md.), who is on track to earn her degree in three years, was also recognized and made her first appearance of the season.

With the win, Seton Hall now has nine points in conference play and remains very much in the thick of the hunt for a postseason berth. The Pirates will wrap up their regular season with a two-game road swing that will take them to St. John’s next Saturday, October 26 before wrapping up at Georgetown a week later.

Start-time between SHU and the Red Storm is set for 7:00 p.m. next Saturday in Queens.