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Men’s Soccer Earns First Win of Season

Katelyn Van Mater/Villanovan Photography
Men’s soccer won its first match of the season at Providence on Sept. 23.

Nearly a year after securing its final win of the 2022 season, Villanova’s men’s soccer team recorded its first win of the 2023 season on Saturday, a 4-3 victory at Providence. The win brings the Wildcats’ record to 1-3-3 and 1-1 in Big East play.

Prior to Saturday, the Wildcats had scored just five goals this season. On Saturday, they nearly matched that total in a single game.

In the second minute, graduate midfielder Marcus Brenes opened the scoring off an assist from junior forward Vincent Petrera.

For head coach Tom Carlin, this season has been all about teaching his team the importance of fighting until the last whistle.

“We are learning perseverance, that’s for sure,” Carlin said to Villanova Athletics. “We’ve all felt like this was coming over the last stretch of games.”

Perseverance would prove to be a theme of the match, as the Friars equalized 10 minutes after going down.

The Wildcats were able to regain their lead three minutes later when graduate defender Anthony Cousins, Jr. scored his first goal of the season.

While it looked as if the Wildcats had regained their momentum, Providence found another equalizer in the 26th minute to level the score at two.

The remainder of the first half was a stalemate, as neither team was able to execute in the final third.

Coming out of halftime, Carlin felt that his team lacked the quality they had shown in the first half.

“I thought we were a little more passive than we had been earlier, and Providence made us pay,” Carlin said.

The passive play of the Wildcats proved detrimental in the 68th minute, when the Friars’ senior forward Brendan McSorley scored to take the lead.

The goal looked like it could have been decisive, but the Wildcats continued to fight back.

Eight minutes after going down, Brenes scored his second goal of the game off an assist from freshman defender, Luke Martelli.

“When you sub a guy in, you’re hoping he can make an impact on the game,” Carlin said. “[Martelli] did an incredible job in his time tonight.”

For the remainder of the game, the Wildcats tried to break through on the attack and defended when needed.

With three minutes to go, the fourth draw of the season looked inevitable. Junior forward Balthi Saunders had other plans.

As he has shown throughout his Villanova career, Saunders is always a threat in front of goal, and Saturday night was no exception. In the 87th minute, Saunders scored what proved to be the game-winner, giving the Wildcats their first win of the season. “

That’s what [Saunders] can do,” Carlin said. “He made a great play to get us a decisive goal. Brenes getting two goals for us was huge too.”

Carlin said that finally getting in the win column was a relief for his squad.

“After the game I told the guys, ‘You can exhale now,’” Carlin said. “It’s human nature to wonder when it’s going to turn even if you know the signs are there that it’s coming. We got a Big East road win at a tough place to play. The guys persevered and were rewarded.”

Next up for the Wildcats is another Big East road game against UConn. The game is set for Friday, Sept. 29 with kickoff at 7 p.m.

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