Men’s soccer takes three straight

Dan Barone

The men’s soccer team has gone unbeaten in its last four games, including three consecutive wins. Villanova has improved its record to an impressive 6-4-1. This record is remarkable considering their 5-13 campaigns during each of the last two seasons. A suddenly ignited offense paired with an already consistently solid defense has been the reason for the resurgence.

The team hasn’t won more than six games since 1996, and it hasn’t won more than seven games in over ten years. “We’re definitely not used to this, but now we’re playing with confidence,” senior captain Dan Massimini said. Massimini has been instrumental in sparking the red-hot offense, which has produced nine goals in its last three games, after notching only seven in its first eight games. The Wildcats are also 5-1-1 in their last seven games.

Most recently ‘Nova took its squad into a home match-up against Main Line rivals St. Joseph’s. The ‘Cats dominated the pace and control of the game from the start, leaving very few chances for the Hawks. Massimini found the net off of a pass from senior Scott Rodemer midway through the first half. At the 67 minute mark, Josh Lopuski’s hard work in the midfield paid off as he was taken down by the Hawk’s goaltender and awarded a penalty shot. Massimini blasted the kick past the St. Joe’s goalkeeper for his second goal of the match. ‘Nova held the lead and recorded its third consecutive win and its third shutout in four games.

On Sept. 28, the ‘Cats were in action again, playing on the road at Pittsburgh. Midway through the first half, the offense showed that the previous game wasn’t a fluke, as Chris Blatz was able to put home a cross from Marcelo Rodriguez. Right out of the gates in the second half, however, Pittsburgh netted the equalizer against the tough Wildcat defense. The offense was quick to respond, however, with two quick goals coming from seniors Colin Raws and Dave O’Donnell. After a missed Wildcat penalty kick, the Panthers regained new life and netted a goal at the 69 minute mark. They were unable to overcome the deficit, however, and ‘Nova recorded its second consecutive victory and its first Big East win of the season. On a down note, Chris Blatz suffered an injury after he scored and was later diagnosed with a broken leg, which he is getting surgery on this week. Head coach Larry Sullivan was disappointed that another injury has burdened the team. “This is a big loss for us”, Sullivan said. “Blatz changes the pace for us up front with his quickness”.

‘Nova’s hot streak began at the University of Philadelphia on Sept. 24. During a game in which the ‘Cats dominated throughout, they only led 1-0 deep into the second half courtesy of a goal by O’Donnell. In the 79th minute, however, Rodemer found the net off of a pass from Jash Lopuski. Just one minute later, Chris Gaffney tallied another off of a pass from Rodriguez. Shortly thereafter, Lopuski created another scoring opportunity and was able to pick up his second assist when Rodriguez capitalized on it. The ‘Cats went on to notch an impressive 4-0 victory.

O’Donnell received honors of Big East offensive player of the week as well as Soccer Seven player of the week for his goals against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. O’Donnell had missed four games with a sprained MCL, but is clearly back in form.

Another key performance came from Rodemer, who had a goal and an assist over the three games. He attributes the team’s recent offensive production to the chemistry and comfort. “We are working well together up front now, and we are finally used to the new system,” Rodemer said. Rodriguez continued to produce as well, tallying a goal and two assists. He increased his team-leading goal total to four and his team-leading assist total to five.

The ‘Cats face tough competition to keep their win streak alive when they travel to Connecticut Saturday to take on the Huskies. Their next home game is not until Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. against No. 18 ranked Seton Hall at the West Campus soccer complex.