Soccer: Villanova soccer survives weekend undefeated

Kathleen Vermilion

Heading into the ’08 season, the men’s soccer team focused on building a new culture and identity. With the departure of long time coach Larry Sullivan and the insertion of new Head Coach Tom Carlin along with an influx of young, heralded players, the ’08 team appears quite different than the ’07 team. However, the ’08 team returns co-captain senior midfielder Joe Taylor and second team All-Big East choice junior Mike Seamon. Moreover, fifth-year senior Danny Demasters, a former All-Big East selection, finally appears healthy after enduring three injury-plagued seasons. As the Wildcats entered their first game of the season, the team appeared poised to build upon last season’s quarterfinal defeat in the Big East Tournament against West Virginia. Preparing to face cross-town rival the Temple Owls in the season opener, Carlin stressed the importance of starting of the season on the right foot, in a recent interview with Last season, the team developed momentum by starting the season 3-1 in the first two weeks.

“The one thing we looked at last year is that we had to come out of the gates flying,” Carlin said.

Ultimately, the ’08 team believes that an influx of 11 newcomers coupled with seasoned veterans should provide the Wildcats with a new culture and identity marked by excellence and success.

On a Friday afternoon at the Villanova Soccer Complex, the Wildcats captured their first victory of the season highlighted by a pair of first half goals by sophomore Sean Mergenthal.

Facing a relatively young Temple team, which finished last season 5-11-2, the Wildcats capitalized early on the Owls’ inexperience. About four minutes into the game, the Wildcats earned a corner kick to the right side of Temple goalkeeper Brett Mollon. Demasters placed the corner kick into the middle of the box where senior Miles Harrison chipped a header to Mergenthal, who headed a shot past Mollon to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. The Wildcats continued to apply pressure on the Owls with Mergenthal, connecting on his second goal of the game during the 28th minute. After halftime, the Wildcats continued to put pressure on the Owls, out-shooting Temple 9-4 in the second half.

Freshman goaltender Chris Beenahan, who earned Big East Rookie of the Week, allowing one goal in 180 minutes during Villanova’s first two games, recorded three keys saves in the first half. Fellow freshman Will Ogden put the game out of reach, scoring his first career goal in the 72nd minute of the match. Ogden, from the soccer-powerhouse Byram Hills High School in Armonk, N.Y., was a former Gatorade High School Player of the Year. The Owls finally broke their scoreless draught in the 80th minute when junior J.T. Noone scored an unassisted goal. Noone’s goal would culminate the scoring affair as Villanova captured a commanding 3-1 victory over the Owls.

With momentum on their side heading into their second game against Hofstra at the Villanova Soccer Complex, the Wildcats looked to sweep their opening week series. Using a pressuring attack, Hofstra was able to halt the Wildcats’ offensive attack, which recorded three goals in their first game against Temple.

In the second half, with the score tied at zero, Carlin made some adjustments to alter and rejuvenate the Wildcats’ attack. With the Villanova increasing the tempo of the game, the Wildcats were able to break the scoreless affair when Seamon, last season’s leading goal scorer, connected on his first goal of the season off a cross from Taylor. Seamon’s goal at the 70th minute of the match would prove to be the difference maker as the Wildcats’ defense maintained their stalwart presence to secure the 1-0 victory. — M.Z.

Women’s Soccer: ‘ Nova goes undefeated in tournament

The combination of new Head Coach John Byford, new recruits and returning players seems to be working for the women’s soccer team, which is 3-0-0 going into September. The ‘Cats had a strong showing this past weekend at the TD Bankworth Classic Tournament, winning games against New Hampshire and Vermont. Villanova’s well-balanced offense outscored opponents 5-1. Both goals in the 2-1 victory over New Hampshire were scored in the first half, while in the 3-0 victory over Vermont the goals were scored in rapid succession late in the second half.

On Aug. 30, Villanova came out strong against New Hampshire, gaining the lead early with a goal from junior Grace Hawkins. This was Hawkins’ third collegiate goal and marks her successful return after missing last season due to injury. Before halftime, the ‘Cats held a 15-6 advantage in the shot count. A goal by freshman Katy Nagy at the 35-minute mark, with seniors Erin Hardiman and Nicole Coia assisting, solidified Villanova’s offensive edge in the first half. New Hampshire came into the second half with renewed energy and put more pressure on Villanova’s defense. Despite increased offensive effort from New Hampshire, they were only able to score one goal. Junior goalkeeper Molly Williams made five saves during the game and was assisted with an additional save by sophomore Amy Greco.

Next, the ‘Cats took on Vermont on Aug. 31 to win the tournament. The game was scoreless until the last 13 minutes, with both teams unable to break through. The first goal was headed in by sophomore Rachel Schuyler, with assists from Kaitlin and Erin Ryan. The next goal was scored by Kaitlin Ryan with an assist from Hardiman, who immediately followed with a goal of her own off an assist from freshman Lauran McCoy. The last two goals were scored only 62 seconds apart. Williams recorded her second shutout in the three games thus far this season; she had one save in the last game. She seems to be stepping up to fill the shoes of Jillian Loyden who graduated last spring.

For their efforts during the tournament, Hardiman was given the title of Offensive MVP for the tournament while seniors Laura Sylvester and Schuyler were named to the All-Tournament team.

Additionally, Nagy and Kaitlin Ryan each scored their first collegiate goal this weekend.

The Wildcats host La Salle, Loyola (Md.) and San Diego this weekend at the Villanova Soccer Complex. They take on San Diego tomorrow at 2 p.m. followed by La Salle on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. — K.V.