Men’s soccer earns hard-fought home victory

Paul Regan

Sophomore forward Max Kroschwitz’s header in the 87th minute gave Villanova a hard-fought three points against Big East foe Butler on Saturday afternoon at the Higgins Soccer Complex. 

The 1-0 victory gives the Wildcats a record of 7-5-3 overall (7-2-3 in their last 12 games) and 2-2-2 in Big East play while Butler moves to 5-6-4 overall and 1-4-1 in the conference. 

The league game had important playoff implications as Butler was just one point behind Villanova in the Big East standings before Saturday’s matchup.

The win also snapped a streak of dropping points in the final few minutes of games. 

Against its last three Big East opponents, the ’Cats allowed late goals that resulted in a loss at Providence and ties against Seton Hall and Marquette. 

But that was not the case on Saturday as Kroschwitz was able to connect on a ball played into the box by junior left back Chris Hill to send it toward the left post past Butler’s freshman goalkeeper Eric Dick.

Head Coach Tom Carlin expressed confidence in his forward’s ability to find the back of the net for his team.

“When he went in at the end, I said ‘Max, you’re going in because you’re going to get one,’” Carlin said. “Max has the composure and the presence to be able to score big time goals. Sometimes he’s not the full 90 minute guy that we want him to be, but if you use him in the right spots and manage him in the right way he has the ability to do that.”

The game was back and forth for much of the first half, without either team able to generate good scoring chances. 

Each team could muster just one shot on goal apiece.

In the second half, the Wildcats found themselves in their own half for the majority of the time with Butler outshooting Villanova 11-4 after halftime. 

“The road team was able to get some of the tempo,” Carlin said. “We had a lot of unforced errors, three or four or five passes in the middle of the field that we gave to the other team without pressure. That keeps you in your half and gives them momentum.”

Butler’s best chance to score came when junior midfielder Vincent Mitchell gained possession inside Villanova’s 18 yard line with sophomore goalkeeper Will Steiner on the ground.  

Mitchell was able to get a shot on net, but freshman right back Christopher Bared came to his keeper’s aid as he headed the shot away.

Villanova had a good chance to score in the 68th minute when senior forward Aaron Dennis dribbled through two Butler defenders and drew a foul just outside the box. 

Junior midfielder Sean Sheridan’s free kick looked as though it would dip under the crossbar but it was knocked away with a diving effort by Dick.

Butler outshot Villanova 19-11 and had eight corner kicks to the Wildcats’ six. 

Six of Butler’s shots came from senior midfielder Zach Steinberger, while sophomore forward David Goldsmith added four more for the Bulldogs.

Steiner came up with a couple of big saves in the second half for the Wildcats and recorded his sixth shutout of the year.

’Nova has three games remaining in the regular season as it tries to maintain its playoff spot. The three points gained on Saturday take a little pressure off of the team.

“It keeps another team underneath us and gives us some momentum going into two road games,” Carlin said.

Villanova has consecutive road games at St. John’s on Oct. 29 and at Xavier on Nov. 2, before returning to West Campus on Nov. 7 to close out the regular season against Georgetown at the Higgins Soccer Complex.