Mens soccer takes down Delaware, 2-1



Mitchell Berrang

The men’s soccer team continued its hot streak by winning its third consecutive game of the season, 2-1 over Delaware in a double overtime thriller on Saturday. Junior forward Padraic McCullaugh led the Wildcats to victory by scoring both goals, including the game winner at the 101:17 mark in the second overtime period.

This game was truly a tale of two halves. In the first 45 minutes of play, Delaware registered 11 shots, which nearly quadrupled Villanova’s three. Nonetheless, the Wildcats managed to get on the board first. Freshman midfielder Zach Zandi brilliantly maneuvered his way through traffic and found McCullaugh undefended at the left side of the box. The 6’6” big man delivered by rocketing the ball past Blai Palmi, Delaware’s goalkeeper, at the 17:40 mark in the first half to give the Wildcats a 1 – 0 advantage. This would not be the last connection made between Zandi and McCullaugh.

Delaware answered in the 30th minute of play. The Blue Hens pushed an offensive attack and crossed the ball through the box, but the ball ricocheted off of a Villanova defender and a hand ball was called. This penalty allowed Delaware’s Jaime Martinez to convert on the ensuing penalty kick, which knotted the game, 1 – 1.

Whereas Delaware managed to apply heavy offensive pressure in the first half, Villanova seized momentum in second half and was the aggressor. The Wildcats fired 11 shots in the second half, seven of which were on goal. However, Palmi managed to save all shots that came his way that half. Wildcats’ goalkeeper Will Steiner was also magnificent in between the posts throughout the game. Steiner recorded six saves on the day, including one critical save in the first overtime period. 

Due to the strong goalkeeping of each team, the second half of the game was a stalemate. This deadlocked contest was to be decided in not one ten minute overtime period, but rather the game would need two overtime periods. 

The first overtime period resulted in back-and-forth play between the teams. Fans were on edge as both teams recorded shots, but neither team managed to register the game winning goal. The second overtime period was a much different story. The Wildcats immediately put their foot on the gas and began an early offensive barrage. 

This attack was first led by sophomore defender Chris Bared, who blasted a shot, which was wide just 30 seconds into the second overtime period. Less than a minute later, California native McCullaugh, received the ball from Zandi following a scrum. This coastal connection resulted in the game winning goal as McCullaugh booted a shot top-left that sparked euphoric celebration among the Wildcats. 

This goal was not only McCullaugh’s fourth goal of the season, but also this goal was his second game-winning goal in back-to-back games. Zandi, too, deserves recognition for facilitating and assisting on both goals of the contest. 

When asked to comment on the Wildcats’ offense, Villanova head coach Tom Carlin stated, “Zandi … really [does] a good job of setting Padge (McCulluagh) … up.” Even more simply put Carlin said, “When we score goals, we’re pretty good.”

Villanova looks to maintain its unblemished 3-0-0 record, as it will travel to take on Monmouth this Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.