Women’s Soccer Prepares to Open the 2021 Season

Women’s Soccer Prepares to Open the 2021 Season

Villanova, Pa.- Villanova women’s soccer is set to open the 2021 season on Thursday afternoon versus the Drexel Dragons at Higgins Soccer Complex.  The team reports to campus at the beginning of the month and has since had a successful preseason and is ready for kick off.

This preseason the team did something different, they stayed at The Inn at Villanova University.  The opportunity gave the team the ability to bond like they haven’t been able to in past preseasons.

“As the old expression goes, you take two steps forward, and sometimes have to take one step back,” shared head coach Chris McLain.  “Well, we have been fortunate enough to take three giant steps forward and then Covid hit, so we had to take one step back. Anytime you take a step back, you must learn from it. The staff got together, brainstormed and we were able to create a preseason environment like never before. With a major focus on player experience and complete immersion into the vision of the program, these players dove in headfirst. Ultimately, that’s what this is all about. The development of soccer is the easy part for us but overall, the goal is equipping these young women with all the tools to succeed once they leave Villanova. As a player and a coach, I’ve experienced preseason for around 30 years. Hands down, this has been the very best. The hunger, desire, and commitment has been there from every corner of this program. These kids have set themselves up for a great season.”

The success of this was shown during Villanova’s 6-1 win over La Salle in their preseason scrimmage.  This years team is made up of two transfers in Molly Shannon and CiCi Fox, 17 returning players, and eight freshman. 

McLain continued, “We have 27 players that are fired up to be a part of this elite program. Every single one of them did everything they needed to prepare them for what lies ahead this season. All the first years are always the most excited, but this year, they were the most prepared we have seen in some time. It helped that the upperclassmen took them right in. We knew they were special but right from the first session, they put everyone on notice that they were here to battle for starting spots. That mentality has raised the level of every player in every single class. When you recruit kids with great character, great families, it just makes the chemistry that much better.”

The Wildcats will play at home nine times this season and will also hit the road for the same number of games.  Following the opener at home to Drexel the Wildcats will head to Newark, Delaware to take of the Blue Hens Sunday night.  Villanova will take on Colorado College on Friday the 27th at home and will travel to Rider on Sunday the 29 for a 3:00 P.M. kick off.  In early September the Wildcats will wrap up non-conference play starting off against Cornell at home followed by a trip to Virginia Tech on the 9th.   Villanova will welcome Colgate for a Sunday afternoon game on the 12th and wrap up non-league play against Penn on the 16th.

“The non-conference schedule is always a massive part of coaching that doesn’t get as much attention as it should,” said McLain. “It’s an art form. It can make or break a season. We have already played pre-season matches against Lafayette and LaSalle. We are not playing them because they are local but rather these games have a direct correlation to future games. These type of games help our kids to be completely prepared for things these players will face in the near future. Every non-conference game will help us as we prepare for a Big East League that is strong from top to bottom. Every team we play will be strong, you know we never shy away from big opponents. This year will be no different.”

To open BIG EAST play Villanova will host Seton Hall on Thursday the 23rd followed by Marquette on Sunday the 26th.  A road weekend is to follow at Xavier and DePaul, the 30th and 3rd respectively.  Providence and Creighton will come to the Main Line for games on the 7th and 10th and after the Wildcats will play back-to-back road games at Georgetown (Oct. 14) and UConn (Oct. 17th).  The final home game of the season will be Sunday, October 24th against Butler and the final game of the regular season will take place on Thursday the 28th at St. John’s.

“This is the strongest the Big East has been since our arrival,” shared McLain. “Obviously, the Big East always attracts top notch recruiting classes. That’s what this league is all about. Most teams had the ability to keep some very special seniors. You can name any team in the league, they all were able to keep at least 1 or 2 big personality players, just to name a few, McNulty/ Rodgers at Providence, Kajan at St. John’s, and Livingstone/ Cleverly at Georgetown. Some of these schools even retained 3-4 of these great players. Massive for the league. We were fortunate to add strength with young players, which makes our future extremely bright. We have added depth, speed, and big personalities.  We have been fortunate to recruit one of the best recruiting classes I’ve been a part of. This should be a big year for the Big East and I predict multiple teams being a part of the NCAA tourney.”

The top six teams will advance to the BIG EAST Tournament, with the first round of games scheduled for Sunday, October 31st.  The championship game will be Sunday, November 7th.

 

 


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