‘Nova looks to weather Storm

Andrew Whalen

While many students return home for break, the athletes keep competing. Villanova men’s soccer had the fall vacation workweek off, but it wasn’t of their own doing. Games against DePaul and Lehigh had to be called off because of constant rain that hit the northeastern coast last week. Standing water at the West campus soccer complex made league officials deem the field unplayable. DePaul is a league game that has been rescheduled for Oct. 31. Villanova should kick tricks and treat DePaul to a nasty defeat.

Villanova did finally take the field last Saturday against Louisville, another new contender for the Big East crown. Despite the break in the storm, the weather continued to wreak havoc on the players and game conditions. Coach Sullivan was apprehensive entering the game, not because of the weather factor but because his team had not had a match in ten days. The team typically plays every three days and Sullivan wondered whether the intensity would be there when it mattered. While the game ended after two overtime periods a scoreless tie, Sullivan was satisfied with the way the team gelled and is optimistic about upcoming games.

The first half against Louisville was a hard fought affair, but Sullivan said the Cardinals “had the edge.” This could be because the wind was pushing hard against the Wildcat defenders making it difficult for them to properly clear the ball. The team could still rely on “number one” keeper Jason Friel to keep them in the game. Friel made aggressive saves in a game Sullivan said was “dictated by the goalies.”

The second half saw ‘Nova return to pre-layoff form. The team played very well into the two overtimes as well. This was a home game that Villanova couldn’t afford to give up. Surprisingly, Louisville didn’t play conservatively on the road as both teams repeatedly attacked the other. Villanova was robbed three times by the opposing goalie on shots that normally would have been in. The shots were so good Louisville’s goalie couldn’t catch them but only could brush them out.

Not surprisingly it was Villanova’s captains Brett Stassfurth and Pat Gallagher who were doing most of the offensive damage. Stassfurth settled the midfield with crisp passes in messy situations. The team counted on his leadership, as well as and Pat Gallagher’s. Gallagher, since moved up front, was dangerous around the net and registered several shots. This was Villanova’s game to win, but the team just couldn’t score.

The team has actually not scored now in 200 minutes of play. While this problematic trend could cause frustration to set in, Sullivan said, “The team is not there yet and will be all right once they put the ball in.” Expect Villanova to vent its frustration on Cincinnati this weekend in another Big East challenge.

The Bearcats are third in the division and play a “slow possession game with bursts of quickness.” Cincinnati players will “lull you before jumping you.” ‘Nova needs to brush them off to keep their goal of a Big East home playoff game alive. Syracuse away still lies ahead and the Orangemen are a team fighting for their Big East lives.

Finally, some are already hyping next week’s home game against No. 5 nationally ranked St. John’s. The showdown is set to take place on Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. Villanova thinks they are ready for the “tough road” ahead.