Men’s Soccer Downs Northwestern, 4-0


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Lyam MacKinnon (above) scored twice in the victory.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

Villanova men’s soccer beat Northwestern, 4-0, at Higgins Soccer Complex on Monday afternoon, claiming its first victory of the season. Senior forward Lyam MacKinnon scored twice, with the other two goals scored by junior forward Akinjide Awujo and junior midfielder Jorge Garcia. With the win, Villanova improved to 1-1-1 on the season. 

MacKinnon, who missed both of Villanova’s games on the West Coast due to injury, proved just how important he is to Villanova’s attack in the match. The Swiss national helped to awaken a Villanova attack that had been quiet in the previous two games. 

“It feels awesome,” MacKinnon said to Villanova Athletics. “The work we put in during our trip to California didn’t pay off out there, but it feels great to be back and help the team win.”

Villanova head coach Tom Carlin stated after the win just how important it was to have MacKinnon back in the lineup.

“It makes such a difference when he’s out there,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “He’s got such a great mind for the game and he’s a difference-maker. He scores goals, he sets goals up. He’s what you want in an attacking player.”

MacKinnon opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Junior midfielder Dominic Cyriacks served a corner kick that found the head of MacKinnon, who directed the ball past Northwestern graduate keeper Christian Garner. 

Garner, despite giving up four goals, was on the ball throughout the afternoon and made a few impressive saves. He totaled seven saves on 23 Villanova shots and 11 shots on goal. Villanova outshot Northwestern, 23-12. 

MacKinnon found the net again in the 58th when sophomore forward Balthi Saunders forced a Northwestern turnover in the middle third and sent a ball into the feet of MacKinnon, who finished the chance. 

“Balthi played a through ball to me,” MacKinnon said to Villanova Athletics. “A defender came across me and kind of tripped up. I was just staring at the ball, focusing on putting it on frame. Thankfully it went in.”

From there, the goals came fast and furious for Villanova. Senior midfielder Gray Ricca found Awujo in the 60th minute, who utilized his pace to get past the Northwestern back line and slotted one past Garner.

Awujo wasn’t done creating chances either, as he made a run that led to a chance for Garcia in the 67th. Garica was able to finish the chance, making it 4-0. 

“We had a good week of practice,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “Our starters were really popping. We still weren’t scoring in practice, but you could see the movement and transition really pop. You could see we were eager today. We’re a veteran team and at home we’ve got to stay on our front foot. We knew we let an opportunity get away at Stanford and didn’t play that well until the end at Cal. We knew we had to assert ourselves, and I’m glad we did.”

Northwestern remains winless on the season with the loss, dropping to 0-2-2. 

Villanova will go back on the road for its next match, traveling to New Haven, Connecticut, to face Yale on Sept. 11. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN+. Villanova bested the Bulldogs, 2-1, in September of the 2021 campaign. Villanova will then return home for a match against NJIT on Sept. 14. The team opens conference play against Providence on Sept. 17.