With a picturesque blue sky hovering above, a bright sun beating down on the field and a crowd of 845 jammed packed inside the Villanova soccer complex, the Villanova men’s soccer team embarked upon their first challenge of the season, as they faced local cross-town rival Drexel University in their opening game of the season this past Friday. The Wildcats opened up the game in grand fashion, connecting on the first two goals of the game. Freshman Mike Seamon recorded his first career goal, heading the ball off sophomore Joe Taylor’s free kick at the 13:18 mark of the first half past the Dragon’s goalkeeper, Cory Roberston, to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Throughout the first half, the Wildcats continued their attack, creatively moving through the Drexel defense and mounting several scoring opportunities.
“Offensively, we try to be creative and are always attacking,” said red-shirt sophomore Danny Demasters. Demasters, who established himself as one of the best rookies in the Big East during his freshman year, unfortunately suffered a torn ACL last season that sidelined him for the entire season. Although still not at 100 percent, Demasters, as well as his fellow teammates and coaches, we’re very pleased that he was to able take the field.
“It was just awesome to be out there,” Demasters said. “I had a little nerves before the game, but I was just eagerly waiting to get into the game. It was just great to be back on the playing field with my teammates again.”
Demasters’ return gives the Wildcats another potent goal scorer and a creative attacker who sets up his teammates well.
“When Danny entered the game, you could see the complexion of the game change,” said head coach Larry Sullivan. “It allowed Joe Taylor the chance to get up forward more where he is very effective.”
As the first half neared its end, the Wildcats were able to capitalize on another scoring opportunity when sophomore Dan McKenna, who had just entered the game as a substitute, was able to connect on his first career goal off a feed from fellow sophomore Miles Harrison. When asked why the team was so effective offensively, McKenna responded, “We had great team play today; our forwards were attacking, and we were able to get them the ball and they were able to capitalize our scoring opportunities.” McKenna’s goal gave the ‘Cats a two-goal lead heading into the second half.
Although the ‘Cats played extremely effectively during the first half and possessed a two-goal lead, Drexel was able to place a great amount of pressure during the early stages of the second half.
“We had a couple of holes in the back during the second half,” said McKenna.
Coach Sullivan added, “Defensively we need to continue to improve upon our decision making as well as our communication. We need to slide better north to south. The defensive middlefield won a lot of balls, but in a lot of cases we gave the ball right back.”
With Drexel creating several scoring opportunities, a tremendous amount of pressure was placed on junior goal keeper Jason Friel. However, Friel was up to the task, making several critical saves and finishing the game with seven saves in total. Drexel’s Wade Gerhardt ended the Dragons’ scoring drought by connecting on a shot past Friel at the 55:10 mark to narrow the Wildcats lead to 2-1. Joe Taylor clinched the game for the ‘Cats with an extraordinary finish off a feed from freshman Mike Seamon at the 79:59 mark of the second half. Both Taylor and Seamon finished the game with a goal and assist to lead the Wildcat offensive attack.
Heading into their game with the Richmond Spiders this past Sunday, the team looked to continue to build upon their 3-1 victory on Friday against the Drexel University Dragons. Specifically, Sullivan stressed the importance of forcing the attack offensively while continuing to improve the defensive play both as a team and individually. The Wildcats were able to achieve both goals as they captured a convincing 2-0 victory in their second game of the season.
Junior Farris Fakhoury started the scoring affair for the Wildcats, posting his first goal of the season off an assist from Joe Taylor at the 23-minute mark of the first half to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish as Jason Friel and the rest of the Villanova defense put forth a superior defensive effort and recorded their first shut-out of the season.
Sullivan was pleased with the team’s defensive effort, stating, “Our defense is getting better. The pieces fit together well. Now we just have to learn to get better. The key to our team will be how the back five play. If they have a good year, we will have a good year.”
Freshman Victor Faustino iced the game for the ‘Cats, scoring his first career goal off an assist from fellow freshman Mike Seamon at the 72-minute mark, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 victory. In both games the ‘Ccats experienced great crowd support drawing over 1,200 people between the two games.
“The crowd was great, and I think we play a pretty attractive style, always attacking,” Sullivan said. The ‘Cats look to continue their success as they begin play in the Rhode Island Tournament versus Rhode Island tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.