Men’s Soccer Opens Big East Play with 1-1 Draw with Providence


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Viktor Benediktsson (above) scored the Wildcats’ lone goal on Saturday.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

Villanova men’s soccer opened up Big East conference play on Saturday, playing to a draw with the Big East preseason favorite Providence Friars, 1-1. The ‘Cats led the game until the 75th minute, when the Friars equalized with a goal from freshman midfielder Brian Lopez. The draw takes the ‘Cats to 2-2-2 overall, 0-0-1 in Big East play.

“I thought we carried out our approach fairly well,” Villanova head coach Tom Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “That’s as dangerous a group of attacking players as we’ll see in this conference. They have a bunch of dangerous guys so we knew it was going to be tough. I thought we stood strong for the most part. I’m proud of our effort.”

The Friars outshot the Wildcats 12-7, but the ‘Cats held the advantage in shots on goal, 4-3. Graduate keeper Kent Dickey made two saves on the afternoon. 

The ‘Cats opened the scoring right before the first half came to a close, with senior defender Viktor Benediktsson finding the back of the net in the 45th. The goal is Benediktsson’s second in as many games. 

The first half was slow offensively for the ‘Cats. The only shot that the Wildcats were able to create in the entire first half was Benediktsson’s goal. The goal came off a corner, with senior defender Anthony Cousins Jr. whipping in a ball that Benediktsson was able to redirect into the back of the net. The assist is Cousins Jr.’s second assist in the last two games, both of which were finished by Benediktsson.

The Wildcats sat back into their defensive positioning for the first portion of the second half, and were briefly able to withstand the Friars’ pressure. However, a failed clearance in the 75th minute led to a chance that Lopez was able to slot away.

“We got the set piece goal,” Carlin said. “We’ve got to ride that out. It was a little unfortunate how they scored. There was a mistake. Outside of that I thought we were solid. Providence made it real hard on us but I was proud of the way we generated two or three more dangerous chances over the final 15 minutes.”

There were some solid chances in the final minutes of the match for the ‘Cats. One came when sophomore forward Vincent Petrera applied pressure to the Friars’ junior keeper Lukas Burns, blocking a clearance and claiming the loose ball, but Burns was able to clean up his mistake by making a save to keep things level. 

Senior forward Lyam MacKinnon also got a decent chance with time dwindling, running from the left, but Burns was able to make the save on MacKinnon’s chance as well. Burns finished with three saves. 

“Some great chances,” Carlin said, “but they didn’t go in today.”

The ‘Cats don’t see the field again until Friday, Sept. 23, when they’ll play their only Friday night matchup of the season against St. John’s. The Red Storm started off conference play with a 3-1 win over Georgetown. They sit with an overall record of 2-4-1. 

“We told the guys to enjoy their Sunday,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “We haven’t had a free Sunday in a while. We’ll get into our St. John’s prep on Monday.”

The game will kick off at 7 P.M. on Friday. It will be broadcast on the Big East Digital Network.