’Cats fall on wrong side of close, physical game

Katy Funabashi

On Saturday at 3 p.m., the men’s soccer team lost a hard fought match 1-0  to the Creighton Blue Jays, who are ranked No. 12 nationally. 

Though the Wildcats triumphed over the Bluejays in 2013, 1-0, in overtime, the physicality of Saturday’s game resulted in six yellow cards, one red card, and one ejection from this heated game. 

The referees were giving out yellow cards at the Higgins Complex like they were free lollipops on Happy Friday.

Saturday’s match fell on St. Thomas of Villanova’s Day of Service, leaving the campus deserted for a majority of the day. 

The men’s soccer team contributed, though, by sorting and packaging around 7,500 pairs of socks for “The Joy of Soxx” philanthropy a few days earlier. These socks will be delivered to homeless shelters in Philadelphia within the next week. 

Saturday also marked the opening day of Big East soccer matches in the 2014 season, and originally the game was scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Higgins Complex. 

Due to a fire started by a bitter contract employee in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Bluejays’ flight, along with 1950 other flights, was delayed. 

As a result, game time was pushed back to 3 p.m., but the delay hardly fazed the Bluejays, who came out just as fired up as the Wildcats. 

Fifteen minutes into the game, Creighton’s Fabian Herbers, a 6-foot sophomore midfielder, nailed a shot that hit Villanova’s post, giving the unmarked freshman Lucas Stauffer the perfect opportunity to send a header flying into the net. 

Creighton led 1-0 for the remainder of the game, and this marked its fifth shutout of the season. 

Though this was the last net action both teams would see, Stauffer’s goal came before a steady slew of physical action, resulting in fouls and yellow cards galore.

About a minute after Stauffer’s goal, senior Oscar Umar, Villanova’s star midfielder, was given a yellow card. 

This was followed by 20 fouls, contributed by both teams, in the first half, which surpassed the total shots fired in the first 45 minutes.  

The second half had fewer fouls, but the referees continued handing out yellow cards. 

Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Umar received his second yellow card, resulting in an ejection from the game. 

Less than a minute later, playing with one man down since Umar’s rejection, Hayden Harr, one of Villanova’s senior midfielders, also received a yellow. ’Nova played down one man for the remainer of the game, but this did not slow down either teams’ intensities. 

Two of Villanova’s starters, Sean Sheridan, junior midfielder, and Christopher Bared, freshman defender, were both carded in the second half as well and Creighton’s Jose Ribas, a senior defender was added to the list of yellow card recipients. 

It seems as if the entire game was stop-and-start, with all of the fouls and yellow cards handed out, but both teams played fiercely until the end. 

Villanova’s goalie, Will Steiner, had six saves, but was fired at 28 times the entire game. Steiner’s resilience and his reliable defense kept the Wildcats in the game.

The Big East matches continue Saturday, with Villanova facing DePaul at 1 p.m. at the Higgins Complex. 

DePaul defeated Big East competitor, Seton Hall, 3-1 last Saturday. DePaul, Creighton, Georgetown and Xavier are the four 1-0 teams in the Big East thus far. 

The Wildcats will have to keep an eye out for Jalen Harvey, one of DePaul’s junior defenders. He was the third-best shooter on the Blue Demons during the 2013 season, and just won the Big East Offensive Player of the week award after scoring three goals with less than four minutes to go, allowing DePaul to defeat Drake, 3-2. 

DePaul’s goalie, Mack Robinson, also leads the Big East in saves per game. 

With DePaul and Villanova both having 120 total fouls under their belts, Saturday’s matchup will be physical, to say the least.