Soccer story that won’t get published anywhere but here
V-Times publication was pushed back, so this won’t run anymore.
The Wildcats of Villanova men’s soccer began Big East play last week with an exhilarating 1-1 draw against South Florida on Saturday, but not before shutting out non-conference rival Temple 1-0 on Tuesday at the West Campus Soccer Complex.
The game on Saturday was marked by strict officiating, as six yellow cards were issued, four to Villanova and two to USF. After a scoreless and sloppy first half, South Florida struck first in the 66th minute. Bulls sophomore Roberto Alterio (one of three Venezuelans and 15 international players on South Florida) struck a free kick from just outside the penalty box on the right. Senior Sebastien Thuriere received the ball—reached for and missed by Villanova goalkeeper John Fogarty, on the opposite side of the goal—and slipped it to senior defenseman Brenton Griffiths, who put it into the open net.
For the rest of regulation, the Wildcats dominated possession and monopolized scoring chances. After the first half, each team had taken six shots with only one on goal. By the end of the second half, Villanova had 22 shots (seven on goal) to South Florida’s 10 (three).
That flurry began with a series of crosses from the right side. Junior Bulls goalie Eric Osswald thwarted the spirited Wildcat attack with some spectacular diving saves, sometimes catching the ball, sometimes punching it away. Aside from two threatening South Florida counterattacks, Villanova’s control was complete.
In the 84th minute, Villanova’s efforts paid off. Sophomore midfielder Oscar Umar, from at least 10 yards outside the top right corner of the box, launched a cross that connected with sophomore Hayden Harr, who headed the ball past a diving Osswald into the left corner of the net. The Wildcats continued to attack the goal, and a low center pass from sophomore forward Aaron Dennis danced in front of the goal as time expired.
The two overtime periods were even except for one unbelievable moment. With about three minutes left in the first period, as the Bulls’ Alterio ran to receive a through-ball in the box, Fogarty ran up to grab it. Fogarty slid for it and missed, giving Alterio an open net. With only one Villanova defender nearby, Alterio rushed—and blasted the ball over the net and to the right.
In Tuesday’s contest, Villanova scored in the 41st minute off a throw-in from the right touch line near the goal line—though there is some question as to who actually did the scoring. Senior Alec Weiss heaved a ball toward the middle of the box, where it appeared to deflect off a Temple defender past their goalkeeper, junior Bobby Rosato. Villanova.com, the official site of Villanova athletics, credits the goal to Villanova senior defender Kyle McCarthy (his first of the year), but to most of the spectators it did not appear that any Wildcat touched the ball after Weiss threw it.
That score bore fruit to a series of attacking chances the Wildcats had in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Weiss attempted to play an incoming cross with a bicycle kick, but slipped, and a subsequent centering pass from junior Danny Gonzalez was just barely deflected by a Temple defender. Soon after, a chance was thwarted when junior forward Dylan Renna tripped near the edge of the box, possibly over the illegally outstretched foot of a Temple defender. If it was a foul, it was not serious enough for the referee to award a penalty kick.
Villanova outshot Temple eight to seven in the first half, maintaining possession for an extended time at the beginning of the contest. Temple responded by counterattacking, sending the ball down the field quickly the moment they intercepted a pass. Senior Owls midfielder Homero Rodriguez made multiple impressive skill moves when bringing the ball up the field. Once he was able to elude the pressure of two Villanova defenders by dragging the ball across his body from right to left with the tip of his right foot. Later in the half, as he was charging a backpedaling Wildcat, he deked right before rocketing left with full control of the ball.
The second half was faster, chippier, more aggressive. Temple took initiative early, challenging Fogarty multiple times. In the 53rd minute, on Temple’s second straight right corner kick, Owls junior defender Nolan Hemmer headed a ball cleanly on goal, but right at Fogarty. Fogarty made six saves on the day, and recorded his second shutout of the season.
The individual play of the game occurred late in the period, around the 80th minute, and it was made by Owls sophomore forward Chas Wilson. Wilson bolted down the right side and stopped on a dime to throw his defender. Coming back toward the top of the box, he unleashed a pretty left-footer that knuckled in the air and hit the crossbar near the far corner.
The Wildcats’ record now stands at 7-2-1, (0-0-1 Big East). Their next game is today, Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m., against St. John’s in Jamaica, Queens. Their next home game is Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 3:00 p.m. against Lafayette, which will be the team’s final nonconference game this season.
[Dylan, I know, there aren’t any quotes. Sacrilege, but I was in a rush.]