PHILADELPHIA, September 28, 2011 – The Villanova Wildcats and Saint Joseph’s Hawks met on the soccer field each trying to end a losing streak. In a game that is a city rivalry and a Philadelphia Soccer Six game, Villanova posted a 3 – 0 shutout to put the Wildcats back in the win column.
It was important for each team to get off to a good start. Villanova was able to do so getting the first goal 7:22 into the game getting an unassisted goal from Freshman Forward Aaron Dennis as he came down the middle shooting the ball to the lower right corner. Saint Joseph’s Junior Goal Keeper Drew D’Ottavi got a piece of the ball, but not enough to stop the ball from going into the net. Villanova Coach Tom Carlin knew that early lead was something his team badly needed as it was something they had not done recently.
“It was very important in the first fifteen minutes we showed what Villanova soccer is about,” Carlin said. “We played the way we wanted to. We got our goal, and after that you looked at our guys, and we didn’t celebrate, it was like ‘finally, finally’ then take that deep breath and play. It was good for us to win and break that streak.”
Saint Joseph’s had its best chance for a goal a minute later. Freshman Forward Alexandros Critzos lifted the ball over Villanova Senior Goal Keeper John Fogarty, but the ball trailed wide hitting the post and bouncing away. The Wildcats scored again at 19:37. Junior Defender Kyle Soroka off a free kick from the left side into the upper right corner to put his team ahead by a 2 – 0 score. Villanova took that lead into halftime.
Villanova turned the game over to their defense in the second half limiting Saint Joseph’s to 3 second half shots.
“We finally solidified things before this game back there, and it showed,” said Carlin. “For them to shut down the game the way they did was very impressive.”
The Wildcats got the only tally of the second half as Junior Midfielder Aaron Lawrence directed the ball into the goal off a rebound in front. Freshman Midfielder Hayden Harr was credited with the assist at the 74:57 mark.
“We talked about trying to set the tempo, set the momentum going into the game, and we didn’t do that,” Saint Joseph’s Coach Don D’Ambra about falling behind early, and not being able to mount a comeback. “We let Villanova come in and dictate what they wanted to do, and we didn’t disrupt that defensively which was frustrating. In the second half we picked up the energy and sense of urgency, but it was too late. against a team like Villanova who was technically superior today.”
Villanova had a territorial advantage resulting 14 – 4 edge in shots on goal, and a 6 – 4 in Corner Kicks. Fogarty made 2 saves for the Blue and White. D’Ottavi made 3 saves for the Crimson and Gray.
“They had long possessions, and we didn’t keep the ball on offense.” said D’Ambra. “In the second half it was better, but you can’t wait until it was 2 – 0 to start playing.”
With the win Villanova improves to 3 – 4 – 2 on the season. The Wildcats prepare for a Big East game against Seton Hall.
Saint Joseph’s is 1 – 6 and will travel to Hartwick for their next match. The Hawks are a young team, and D’Ambra looks at the experience his team is gaining as a building block for future success.
“We have some young guys who are doing some good things, contributing throughout the year,” D’Ambra said. “In a more established program some of these kids would not be playing until their Junior or Senior year. Our guys are getting 70 – 80 minutes per match. It’s great for the development, but you have to make plays. We are not making enough plays.”
Thoughts and Musings
Villanova and Saint Joseph’s is a rivalry. The basketball rivalry is well-known, but the desire to win against each other transcends to other sports as well. The two schools are Philadelphia Soccer Six rivals. The players know each other from club soccer and high school. They want to win against each other. The local aspect is of great importance for both teams.
“It’s awesome,” said Carlin about winning a city battle. “The Soccer Six is a great thing. There is a rivalry and a bite to these games. It is how it is, and it’s cool to have that. It is exciting for the guys, it;s exciting to go 2 – 0 in our Soccer Six games. We feel good about that, and it gives us a little momentum.”
For D’Ambra the rivalry is important. The game has importance to his school, and to him.
“To me, it is,” D’Ambra said. “I went to Saint Joe’s, I grew up in Philadelphia. I appreciate the Big Five and the City Six, the tradition of the schools. Those matches are sweet when you win.”