Men’s Soccer: Wildcats beat Saints 2-1 in home opener

Michael Zipf

By Michael Zipf

Staff Reporter

Returning 10 of 11 starters this season, the men’s soccer team headed into the ’07 season relying on the veteran experience the team lacked last year. Ironically, a freshman, Sean Mergenthal recorded Villanova’s first and lone goal in its opening matchup of the ’07 season against the Richmond Spiders this past Friday, where Villanova was defeated 2-1. Looking to start the season on a high note and gain momentum before they faced perennial ACC powerhouse Duke and a solid North Carolina State team in the Duke Adidas Classic, the Wildcats were unable to upend the Spiders in the season opener.

The Spiders captured an early first-half lead, connecting on the game’s first two goals. Junior Delano Pierre recorded both goals within the first 22 minutes of the half to give Richmond a solid 2-0 lead. However, the Wildcats silenced the crowd of 2,432 with a strong counter attack minutes after Pierre’s second goal. Freshman Mergenthal registered his first career goal, blasting a shot inside the right post off a feed from junior midfielder Joe Taylor. Mergenthal closed the scoring affair in the first half and cut the Wildcats deficit in half 2-1.

After halftime, the Wildcats opened the second half looking to build upon the momentum that Mergenthal’s late first-half goal provided. Although the Wildcats created several scoring chances with effective ball movement, senior goalkeeper Eric Sciocchetti, the 2006 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, halted the Wildcats’ comeback, recording two key saves during the second half. Both teams registered 11 shots on goal, including five in the second half. Villanova was unable to capitalize on its 9-15 advantage in fouls and 3-8 in the second half to mount any more offensive attacks.

Last year the Wildcats, who were plagued by missed opportunities and injuries struggled to maintain a significant offensive attack, averaging only one goal a game and seven shutouts. In their ’07 season opener, the ‘Cats continued to struggle offensively, registering only one goal that led to an early first-half deficit. Although the Wildcats steadily improved as the game progressed, Coach Larry Sullivan and the rest of the team recognize the importance of scoring first and capitalizing on early scoring opportunities.

The Wildcats bounced back quickly from their first loss of the season by defending their home turf against Siena with a 2-1 victory.

Villanova trailed 1-0 at the half, but struck early in the second half to tie it. Junior Danny DeMasters found the net off of a feed from sophomore Mike Seamon. The goal shifted the momentum for good, and the energized ‘Cats scored the game-winning goal 16 minutes later.

Junior Joe Taylor, after struggling to gain possession in the box, put home the deciding goal to give the Wildcats their first win of the ’07 season. They’ll return to action Friday at Princeton.