Men’s Soccer Falls in Season Opener


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Villanova defeated by Stanford, 1-0, in first road game.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

Villanova men’s soccer opened its season on the West Coast Thursday evening, falling to the Stanford Cardinal 1-0. The game’s lone goal came in the 10th minute as Stanford sophomore forward Jackson Kiil tucked away a rebound that was loose just outside the six-yard box. The Wildcats were without 2021’s top goalscorer senior forward Lyam MacKinnon, who did not warm up for or participate in the evening’s contest.

The Cardinal started the game on the front foot, holding the bulk of possession in the first 10 minutes of match time. The Cardinal were able to create some dangerous chances and broke through in the 10th minute. 

“We made a mistake with a square ball right across the middle,” Villanova Head Coach Tom Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “We had a game plan and that was a little bit in contrast with our game plan. Credit to them for capitalizing. But the reality is we had our chances to neutralize it and there was still a ton of time left. It would have been nice if we had gotten one to go for us.”

While the ‘Cats were unable to find the equalizer, the squad did not go out quietly against a relentless Cardinal defense. The Wildcats were able to settle into the game later in the first half after riding another wave of Stanford possession. 

Around the 34th minute the ‘Cats were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area after junior forward Luke Pompliano was able to draw a foul. Sophomore forward Balthi Saunders stepped up to take a shot at goal, but his attempt was easily saved by Stanford keeper Matt Frank. 

The Cardinal went into the half with a one-goal advantage. After the break, the ‘Cats were able to continue to weather storms of Cardinal chances and get out on the counter while the Cardinal were spread thin. Villanova’s defense, with the exception of the one miscue, played well. Graduate keeper Kent Dickey made nine saves, eclipsing his total saves from three games of action from 2021. Dickey recorded several impressive reaction saves. 

Where the ‘Cats disappointed was in the middle third of the field. The midfield made a few costly unforced errors trying to build up offensive attacks, costing the Wildcats a couple of chances. Finishing was also an issue for the ‘Cats, but that could be more attributed to Stanford’s smothering style of defensive play. However, Carlin remained positive about his team’s efforts in Palo Alto. 

“On the whole, I was pretty happy with our overall effort,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “We saw some big performances. Everybody that stepped on the field was ready to play.”

The Wildcats’ next challenge comes in the form of the Cal Golden Bears, scheduled for 4 P.M. Eastern time on Sunday, August 28.