Late Game Corner Kick Forces Draw Against Cal


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Junior Akinjide Awujo (above) scored Villanova’s lone goal in the 87th minute.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

Late heroics from junior forward Akinjide Awujo gave Villanova men’s soccer what it needed to escape with a 1-1 draw against the Cal Golden Bears. The Wildcats are still looking for their first win on the season, but the draw brings the squad’s record to 0-1-1.

Awujo scored off a corner kick in the 87th minute delivered by sophomore forward Balthi Saunders, as Saunders whipped a ball into the eight-yard box that snuck by Golden Bears redshirt junior keeper Collin Travasos. Awujo found the ball in, and redirected it into the back of the net. 

“I feel like it happened in about a second,” Awujo said to Villanova Athletics. “I had to dive a little bit to reach it but it was a great service by Balthi.”

The Golden Bears’ goal in the contest came in the final minute of the second half when the ‘Cats were whistled for a handball inside their own 18-yard box, awarding the Golden Bears a penalty kick. Senior forward Fahmi Ibrahim stepped up and sent the penalty attempt into the back of the net. 

“We used a lot of guys and showed our depth,” head coach Tom Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “With 20-something seconds left in the first half, we made a mistake and gave them one. And now you’re chasing the game. It gave them the ability to sit and transition us. We sent a lot of numbers forward and that left us open to transition chances.”

In the second half, the ‘Cats made a few key defensive plays to keep the deficit at one. Saunders made a goal-line clearance with his head shortly after play restarted. 

“I usually don’t find myself on defensive corners,” Saunders said to Villanova Athletics. “It was a little bit of a surprise. The ball was just kind of coming to me. I didn’t know I was that tall. I jumped up and hit it off the line. It was more of a reaction thing.”

Graduate goalkeeper Kent Dickey also made a play to keep the ‘Cats in it in the 78th, extending his right hand to stop a Cal attempt on goal. 

“You need your goalkeeper to make a big save if you are going to earn points and Kent did that for us,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. 

The Golden Bears outshot the ‘Cats 18-10 on the afternoon, but the two teams were even in shots on goal at four a piece. 

Importantly, no overtime period was played between the Golden Bears and the Wildcats, as the NCAA changed its rules regarding the overtime period before the current season. Overtime is now only played in conference and NCAA tournament games, and is no longer “golden goal” style. 

The ‘Cats are still on the hunt for their first win of the season, and the next opportunity for it is a match with Northwestern. The battle between two Wildcats will take place on Labor Day, Sept. 5 at Higgins Soccer Complex. Northwestern also stands at 0-1-1.