Men’s soccer back on track after loss to St. John’s

Dan Barone

Back at full strength and playing well together, the men’s soccer team shut out Philadelphia University Wednesday 4-0 after notching a tie and a loss in its previous two times out. ‘Nova was defeated 2-0 by No. 9 St. John’s and tied Temple 0-0. The ‘Cats’ record now stands at 3-4-1, but head coach Larry Sullivan still thinks the team has a good chance to reach the postseason.

Last Sunday, the ‘Cats played a physical match against their Soccer Seven rivals, Temple, who came into the contest with a 4-1 record. In a game that was marred by numerous yellow cards and foul calls, ‘Nova dominated the play on the field. The game remained knotted at 0-0 as time wore on in the second half. Close second-half scoring opportunities by Tony Watkins and Colin Raws nearly broke the stalemate, but the attempts were thwarted by Temple goalie Patrick Hannigan. Both overtime periods remained scoreless as well, and the game ended in a draw.

On Sept. 17, the Wildcats took on No. 9 ranked soccer powerhouse St. John’s. While being out shot 9-1 in the first half, the game remained scoreless at halftime. The second half was more of the same, with the Red Storm wearing down the ‘Cats and bombarding the goal with shots. Among those shots, they found the net twice, during the 60th and 70th minutes. Although it was the first game this season in which ‘Nova has suffered a defeat by more than one goal, Sullivan was not disappointed with his team’s effort. “We played them well, and we showed those guys that we could play right with them,” Sullivan said. “It took them awhile to figure us out.”

Sophomore goalie Craig Bald recorded his second shutout in just four games in the match against Temple and made a total of nine saves in the two contests. Bald’s recent success can also be attributed to the solid defensive unit playing in front of him. Praising his defense Sullivan said, “They are the reason we’re on the map right now.”

The defensive core features Chris Edgar, Tony Watkins, Pat Gallagher and Greg Winther.

Winther is the newest addition to the defense and has been playing well. “We’re playing well enough to win right now on defense, and our offense has been creating opportunities,” Winther said. “We just have to put the ball in and we’ll be able to win a few more games.”

Captain Dave O’Donnell will be rejoining the unit soon. O’Donnell returned to a standing ovation on Sunday after sitting out the last five games with a sprained MCL.

He is playing in the midfield until he can get his fitness level back up to speed.

‘Nova hopes to get back on the winning track during its next couple games. Playing with confidence, it played St. John’s closer than any other Big East team, including No. 10 Rutgers and No. 15 Notre Dame.

The Wildcats play next Sunday at Pittsburgh, and their next home game is Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. against St. Joseph’s at the West campus Soccer Complex.