Men’s soccer will compete in Big East tournament

Katy Funabashi

After beating St. John’s 2-0 on Wednesday, Oct. 29, Villanova secured its spot in the Big East Tournament, which begins on Nov. 11. A 3-0 loss to No. 9 ranked Xavier on Saturday proved the Wildcats’ post-season will not be an easy one, though.

Villanova played St. John’s away and continued its four-game winning streak by knocking out St. John’s 2-0. 

‘Nova, who had not lost since playing Creighton on Oct. 11 knew St. John’s would be playing with intensity because of SJU’s low ranking in the Big East and thus slim chance of making it to the post-season. 

Not only was St. John’s at home with about 600 fans behind them, but it was desperate to win or score to increase its chance of qualifying for the post-season tournament. 

Though it was to no avail, SJU fired 18 shots, surpassing Villanova’s attempts by 10, in the 90 minute timeframe. The Wildcats took over in the second half, scoring two goals within a five minute timespan of each other, which made SJU play a much more physical game. 

Sophomore forward Max Kroschwitz scored his first goal of the season five minutes after the second half began, assisted by John Jlopleh, another sophomore forward. With under five minutes later, sophomore defender Willis Griffith helped senior forward Aaron Dennis score. 

Even though the score stayed at 2-0 for the rest of the game, the game increased in intensity after the Wildcats scored. 

A scuffle at the 75-minute mark left St. John’s senior defender Marco Bodon and Villanova’s Dennis both with yellow cards, thus disqualifying co-captain Dennis from the match on Saturday, something that deeply hurt the Wildcats. 

When the final whistle blew, three fouls had just been committed, making ‘Nova’s final foul count 14 and SJU’s 16, displaying the intensity both teams left the field with. 

One day after its triumph at St. John’s, Villanova received news that it had qualified for the Big East tournament. After failing to earn a spot last year after a six year trend of doing so, the Wildcats breathed a huge sigh of relief. 

Qualifying for the Big East tournament didn’t make the Wildcats any less motivated about playing No. 9 Xavier away on Saturday, though. 

The Wildcats wound up losing 3-0 at Xavier, who was straight off of a 1-0 loss to nationally ranked No. 8 Georgetown. 

Georgetown snapped the Musketeers’ nine-game winning streak the week before, so naturally they brought the heat on Saturday against ‘Nova. 

Both of the teams the Wildcats faced this past week played hard from start to finish, but the scoreboard did not hint at that. 

The Wildcats held St. John’s off 0-0 until halftime, and were only down by one to Xavier when the referee blew his whistle at the 45-minute mark. 

Freshman redshirt Walker Adroit had scored for Xavier a little over five minutes after the game began, but ‘Nova was able to keep the score this way until halftime. 

Head Coach Tom Carlin made the decision to place emphasis on Wildcats’ offense to try and tie the Musketeers’ 1-0 lead after halftime, but sadly Wildcats senior forward Hayden Harr’s goal at the 77th minute was taken away after the referee signaled an off-sides call. 

The Musketeers’ last two goals were practically solo efforts, since the Wildcats were trying to play more offensively the second half. 

Freshman midfielder Josh Grant quickly scored a second goal after Harr’s almost-goal, and Wildcats goalie Will Steiner was left to deal with another one on one play that resulted in a goal scored by Xavier freshman forward Eric McWoods with under one minute left.

The game concluded in Cincinnati at 3-0. This marked Xavier’s ninth shutout of the season, and the Wildcats’ first loss since Oct. 11. 

Finding a way to play with ferocity and energy from the start is something that will assist Villanova both in its post-season competition and against Georgetown tomorrow.

Carlin stressed this during the Xavier game, and the Wildcats will likely continue this method when they play the Hoyas tomorrow. The Hoyas are ranked No. 4 in the Big East, just one spot above Villanova, and neither Villanova nor Georgetown has scored more than four goals per game this season, so tomorrow should be a fairly low scoring game. 

Tomorrow also marks Senior Day for the Wildcats. After two away games, the Wildcats will play their final in-season game at home at 2 p.m. at the Higgins Soccer Complex. Six fantastic Wildcat seniors will be graduating in the spring, but luckily their time with the team is going to be extended because of the promising post-season. Villanova is seeded No. 5 in the Big East tournament and plays its first game on Tuesday, Nov. 11. 

Join the men’s team tomorrow at home for Senior Day, and the Wildcats’ last home game of the season at 2 p.m.