WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – VCU showed its toughness once again Friday night, battling back from a pair of one-goal deficits but Villanova scored the game-winner with 31 seconds remaining in double-overtime to defeat the Rams 3-2 in the opening game of the Nike Tribe Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Invitational on the campus of William & Mary.
Sophomore Taryn Cressy came off the bench and erased an early 1-0 deficit in the 39th minute before senior Meaghan Dullea converted her third penalty kick in as many games to tie it again in the 70th minute. But Villanova's Katie Ryan collected a deflection and fired a shot from eight yards out into the left side for the game-winner with 31 seconds left in double-OT. All three of VCU's losses have come by a single goal.
"I can't lie, this one stings," said Co-Head Coach Tim Sahaydak. "To lose a match in double-OT with 30 seconds on the clock is hard to swallow. I feel for the players tonight because they performed so well and were fighters. To come from behind twice took heart and we played with that tonight. Sometimes the lessons are cruel and this time we fell just short but this team had a renewed spirit and put together the best soccer for much of the match. Despite the result, the performance was there and we'll build on that as we look to take on Georgetown on Sunday."
VCU goalkeeper Kristin Carden, who registered seven saves, was busy early as she made stops on two of Villanova's first three shots to start the match before Erin Ryan put the Wildcats on the board in the 14th minute. Katie Ryan sent a pass from the right wing and Ryan finished from 14 yards out giving Nova a 1-0 lead.
After fighting off a flurry of shots early, VCU (1-3-1) settled down and held Villanova (4-0-1) to just two during the final 30 minutes of the half.
The Rams made a pair of subs with time winding down in the opening period, which proved to work in their favor as Cressy scored the equalizer in the 39th minute. She was in the game for less than a minute before finishing off a deflection from six yards away to knot the game at 1-1.
However, Villanova would eventually regain the lead less than 50 seconds into the second half. Erin Ryan sent a pass from the left side to Bryana Gold, who found the right side of the net from eight yards out to give the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage.
Conrad had a look again in the 47th minute but Villanova goalkeeper Jami Kranich was there to make the save. Carden made stops again in the 51st, 53rd and 67th minutes to keep the Rams within reach.
Cressy nearly tied it in the 65th minute but her strike hit the crossbar. Less than five minutes later, Villanova was called for a hand ball in the box which allowed Dullea to convert the penalty kick, knotting the score at 2-2.
The Rams, who held a 19-17 advantage in shots, continued to pressure and fired two more strikes in the 71st minute. Junior Gabby Wilson's shot was blocked before Kranich made a save after sophomore Bex Kunz fired back the rebound.
Carden made a snag on a shot by Kaitilin Hogman to preserve the tie six minutes into the first overtime. Junior Breiana White tried to win it for the Rams in the 106th minute but Kranich made her seventh save.
Katie Ryan then collected a deflection and fired from eight yards out into the left side for the game-winner with 31 seconds left in double overtime.
VCU continues play in the Nike Tribe Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 4 with a 12 p.m., match against 13th-ranked Georgetown.