After capturing two convincing victories over Temple and Hofstra, the Wildcats faced nationally ranked Boston College and Brown this past weekend to start a difficult five-game road stretch.
Leading up to the match against Boston College, the No. 2 team in the nation, the Wildcats reflected upon the lessons learned from last season’s early victory over No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Like the Duke game, the matchup between the Golden Eagles and Wildcats was a highly contested bout, with two stalwart defenses stealing the show.
Heading into their matchup against Boston College, the Wildcats recognized they would be facing a high-octane offense that featured three All-Americans and last year’s leading goal scorer. The first half of the match was dominated by the BC offense, which out shot the Wildcats 6-2. However, Villanova’s goaltender, Chris Bresnahan, thwarted all of the Golden Eagles’ opportunities.
At halftime, the Wildcats made a few adjustments to settle in their offensive attack. Villanova opened up the second half with more organized play on the offensive end, which led to a 7-5 advantage in shots.
Sophomore Sean Mergenthal, who scored two goals in the Wildcats’ victory over Temple, nearly connected on his third goal of the season; however, Mergenthal’s shot glazed the crossbar, sailing out of bounds.
With 12 minutes left in the match, Boston College’s Greg O’Neil ended Villanova’s aspirations for another early season victory over a top team. After the Villanova defense failed to clear the ball twice, O’Neil gathered the lose ball and rocketed a shot past Bresnahan to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory.
Seeking redemption against another nationally ranked team, the Wildcats entered the Black Bear Soccer Complex against Brown University. Although the Wildcats lost 2-0, new Head Coach Tom Carlin said he classified the game as one of the team’s best overall efforts. The Wildcats steadily moved the ball well throughout the match, out shooting Brown 19-13. However, Brown was able to capitalize on a few Wildcat miscues during the early minutes of the matchup to garner a 2-0 lead just 14 minutes into the match. Brown’s Nick Elenz-Martin scored his first goal of the ’08 campaign off a feed from David Walls and Rhett Bernstein to give Brown a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Jon Okafor extended the lead by gathering a lose ball in the Villanova box to tip it past Bresnahan.
Down 2-0, Villanova mounted a comeback effort in the second half, creating seven scoring chances. However, the team was unable to capitalize on its scoring opportunities.
After two consecutive defeats, the Wildcats fall back to the .500 mark with a 2-2 record and three more road games ahead.
This Saturday, the Wildcats will kick off in the Bronx, N.Y., as they take on the Fordham Rams. ‘Nova will then travel to West Virginia as it begins its Big East Conference schedule against the Mountaineers in Morgantown.