With as much hype as there was following Hurricane soccer star Britney Butcher’s record-breaking game against Seton Hall on Friday, it didn’t prove enough to carry the team to a second victory last weekend. After defeating the Pirates 3-1 Friday night, Miami fell to the Villanova Wildcats in Cobb Stadium on Sunday, 3-0.
“We didn’t come prepared like we should have,” said Butcher, a sophomore who now holds the University of Miami record for most goals scored in a season (12). “We didn’t play with pride, and this is a game we needed to win.”
Miami’s (9-5-1 overall, 4-2-1 in the Big East) offense seemed timid and disorganized throughout much of the first half. The ‘Canes looked sluggish against a heat-stricken but strong Villanova defense. The Wildcats (10-3-1) were able to break through, allowing junior Janessa Jeltema to score 19 minutes into the game.
Another golden opportunity arose for the Wildcats late in the first half, but UM’s Lisa Gomez and Brittani Zonker were able to thwart it. Villanova favored long passes, often leaving the ‘Canes high and dry when the ball arrived in their territory. Many of these passes were fruitless attempts.
During the second half, the Hurricanes’ efforts seemed to be even more futile, when the defense allowed wide-open shots to be taken. Villanova dominated offensively and stepped up their game, while Miami was struggling with chances to shoot when they had the ball in Wildcat territory.
In a Villanova fast break late in the half, the ‘Cane defense was nowhere to be found as Regina Villardi put up another goal to go ahead 2-0. There was a short burst of energy from the Miami offense, but they were no match for Villanova’s wall of defenders. The Wildcats were able to score a third time as Candice McDonald eased the ball through the net in a low-aggression drive. The Hurricanes had already expended what little energy they began the half with.
In a state of desperation, the Miami offense ended up looking a lot like Florida State’s football kicking team did on Saturday, with a wide left shot that closed any remaining doors open for a Hurricane victory.
UM goalie Rachel Elsby had nine saves in her 85 minutes of play, helping to stop what could have been an even higher scoring game from Villanova’s fired-up offense. VU goalie Chrissy Dolan had 11 saves.
Butcher explained the game as a crucial loss for Miami, which remains in first place for the northeast division of the Big East. “In order to show that you’re material for the NCAA tournament, you need to beat teams [like Villanova].”
The Wildcats are currently tied for second with Rutgers in the mid-Atlantic division.
Head coach Tricia Taliaferro was disappointed in the ‘Canes’ effort and focus. “Villanova was organized, and they wanted the game,” she said.
Obviously, that desire was worth something.
“After every game we say we need to come back to practice and pick it up,” said Butcher. “We can’t keep saying that…we just need to get the job done.”
You can reach Melissa Teich at firstname.lastname@example.org.