‘Nova falls to cross-town rivals

Michael Zipf

This past week the Villanova men’s soccer team suffered two heartbreaking losses to cross-town rivals Penn and Temple. During each game, the team showed flashes of brilliance and the toughness needed to achieve the team’s goal of qualifying for the Big East Playoffs. Although the team’s record currently stands at 1-3, head coach Larry Sullivan still believes that the team will qualify. Coach Sullivan noted that he has witnessed his team grow as each game has progressed. As a relatively inexperienced team, with only six upper class man, the Wildcats have witnessed the emergence of many of their younger players. However, the team has been plagued by many injuries including losing star sophomore Dan Demasters, a top 100 player in the nation, and freshman Mike Delgerchio before the beginning of the season. In addition, in the last two games, the Wildcats have suffered the loss of four key players. Nevertheless, in each game the Wildcats persevered and had chances to the win game, but unfortunately we were unable to be victorious.

On Friday, Sept. 9, the Wildcats (1-2) battled a sound Penn team, which had a record of 2-0 heading into the game The first half of the game featured very exciting and highly contested play, with each team mounting several scoring chances. Penn generated several scoring opportunities but the strong defense of the Wildcats anchored by Senior Pat Gallagher was able to keep the game scoreless through the first 44 minutes. However, with 22 second left in the first half the Wildcats were whistled for a penalty, which granted the Quakers a free kick. The Quakers capitalized on this opportunity connecting on a goal by Keith Vererb, which was set off by feeds from Jose Baugh and Erik Violante. With the momentum on their side, the Quakers continued to apply pressure on the Wildcats. However, the Wildcats were able to generate a great scoring chance in the 62nd minute when Freshman Adam Brazitis sent a header towards the Quaker goalkeeper Dan Cepero. Unfortunately, Cepero made the save thwarting the ‘Cats chances of tying the game. All Wildcat hopes of tying the game ended, when the ‘Cats were whistled for taking down Violante in the penalty area. Violante connected on the penalty kick and gave Penn a 2-0 victory. When asked what the turning point of the game was Coach Sullivan responded, “The game went back and forth but the two calls, the penalty kick with about 10 minutes left and the free kick with about 45 seconds left in the first half definitely impacted the outcome of the game.” However Coach Sullivan believed that his team matched up well against Penn and generally rose to the occasion.

Two days later, on Sunday, Sept. 11, the Wildcats suffered another heartbreaking loss to the Temple Owls. Heading into the game, the Wildcats loss the services of two key defensive starters, sophomore Matt Sleece, who received a red card in Friday’s game against Penn and senior leader Pat Gallagher, who sustained an injury during that same game. Also during the first half of the game, the Wildcats suffered game ending injuries to sophomores Neil McNulty and Dan Mckenna. Nevertheless, the Wildcats showed their perseverance by overcoming the absences of these players and playing a thrilling and highly contested game. Coach Sullivan was impressed with the poise of his players, especially his freshman.

He said, “The freshman played well, and I believe the team grew as the game went and kept their cool throughout most of the game.”

However, with roughly about one minute left in regulation the Wildcats made an unfortunate and costly mistake. After the Wildcats had tied the game on a goal by senior forward Charlie Rowan, which was assisted by a feed from sophomore Billy Whiteside, the Wildcats were whistled for a foul inside their own penalty box. Owls forward Tony Donatelli, who was taken down inside the box, connected on a low blast into the left corner at the 89:15 mark to give the Owls the 2-1 victory. Throughout the game, the Wildcats mounted several scoring chances, but were denied many times by Owl goalkeeper Bryant Hosler. However, prior to Rowan’s goal the Wildcats had actually connected on one of their scoring opportunities, but the goal was disallowed due to a foul call. Overall, the Wildcats played well, but injuries coupled with a two unlucky calls cost the Wildcats the game. The Wildcats (1-3) are determined to avenge their past two losses as they take on Pittsburg this Friday at the soccer complex at 3:00 p.m. in the team’s Big East conference opener.