MSOC: ‘Nova takes down Fordham

Michael Zipf

Heading into its matchup against Fordham and scoreless in its last 180 minutes of action, the men’s soccer team tried to revitalize its offense. With a long hiatus from its last game, the team spent the majority of the week intensely preparing for a Fordham team that finished last season 6-10-2.

“Our emphasis has been on improving ourselves and changing the bad habits that we have shown during games,” senior Mike Harrison said. “It is more important for us to work on the things that we do and improve them as a team, rather than focusing as much on the things the other team is going to do.”

However, the Wildcats’ inability to connect on their scoring opportunities plagued the team throughout the early portion of the match. The Fordham Rams outshot the Wildcats 4-0 in the first 25 minutes of the match.

Freshman goaltender Chris Breshanan, who has been stellar in his first campaign behind the net, thwarted three Ram scoring opportunities. However, the best save of the afternoon belonged to sophomore transfer Brent Hooper, who bailed out Bresnahan after a 20-yard blast sailed over his hand toward the corner post. Stationed on the goal line, Hopper prevented the Rams from gaining an early advantage.

Eventually, the Villanova offense increased the game’s tempo, allowing the team to utilize touch passes through the middle to generate solid scoring opportunities. The Wildcats’ best scoring opportunity occurred when senior Danny Demasters accepted a pass and rocketed a shot that was barely deflected by Fordham goalkeeper Ryan Meara. Throughout the second half, the Villanova defense continued their stalwart performance holding the Rams scoreless.

After the Rams and Wildcats played to a scoreless tie at the end of the game, the Wildcats generated several scoring opportunities during the overtime period. Harrison recorded the first good chance of the overtime session when he headed a ball just wide of the net off a corner from senior captain Joe Taylor. Sophomore Sean Mergenthal, who leads the team in scoring, capitalized on the game’s final scoring opportunity. Mergethanl recorded his third goal of the season off a scramble in the box that caromed to the forward who finished the play to give the Wildcats an important and hard-fought 1-0 victory.

“The Fordham game was a big game for us for several reasons,” Harrison said. “First, it was important for us to rebound after a disappointing weekend in Rhode Island against Boston College and Brown. Second, it is our last game before we start the Big East schedule, so it was important for us to go in with a positive feeling coming out of the Fordham game.”