The Seton Hall women’s soccer team fell to Big East foe Villanova, 2-0, in South Orange Friday night.
The evening started with celebration, as streamers and balloons lined the bleachers in commemoration of senior night. Seniors Melissa Blevins, Amanda Gulli, Emily Hansinger and D’Yonna Riley were each presented with flowers and gifts on-field by loved ones and coach Rick Stainton prior to game time.
Once the ceremony concluded, the team huddled around each other. Music was blasting, players were jumping and dancing and they were in good spirits. Stainton agreed the energy was palpable.
“I think they were energetic with it,” he said. “Being on our home field, last game of the season, senior day. You know, the pulse of the team coming into it was very good.”
And the team’s play started off well, too. Seton Hall was immediately aggressive on offense, with a shot on goal and a corner kick in the opening minutes. Defensive pressure was led by senior and co-captain Riley, whose attack and leadership on the field was unquestionable in her challenges.
Still, Seton Hall had trouble getting possession out of the backfield, and this dilemma proved to be costly as Villanova scored its first goal in the 10th minute, a close challenge by Wildcat Emily Kuefler.
SHU continued to struggle in finding an offensive identity, until a substitution of Jackie Saint John in the 32nd minute added a dash of energy, opportunity and purpose to the attack.
“Jackie’s got great qualities to her, and she’s very attack-minded and she’s very technical, so she adds a lot for us in our attack,” Stainton said. “When she plays consistent like that, she’s one of the best around.”
Even so, Villanova held the stronger presence on offense. Defensive pressure provided stoppages and extra offensive attacks for the Hall, but the team could not stop Christina Camassa in the 63rd minute when she scored Villanova’s second goal.
Seton Hall fell 2-0 at this time, and the result would hold true.
Lack of fluidity, movement and communication on offense proved to be troubling for the Hall throughout the shutout. Players such as Eva Gonzalez dished gorgeous gives into the box, but with no Pirate around to give the final tip into the net.
With the loss and the regular season ending Friday, Seton Hall team finished with a record of 2-14-2.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @eswint22.