by Andrew Moffa
The men’s soccer team entered its game against Syracuse on Oct. 17 with a 10-2-2 record overall and an undefeated record in the Big East Conference. Furthermore, they had not lost a game since Sept. 16. However, Syracuse came to Villanova with a lot of energy and scored two second half goals to battle past the Wildcats, 2-0.
About 10 minutes into the second half, Villanova senior Kyle Soroka fired a goal past the Syracuse goalkeeper, but it was disallowed after the referees determined Soroka to be off sides. This brief moment totally changed the momentum of the game, as it gave Syracuse extra confidence and took some wind out of ’Nova’s sails.
In the 68th minute, Syracuse finally broke through against ’Cats goalkeeper John Fogarty when Louis Clark crossed the ball into the box, where Lars Muller directed a header inside the right post and past Fogarty. In need of a game-tying goal, Villanova pushed forward and attacked nonstop for the remainder of the game.
However, Syracuse keeper Alex Bono made some critical saves to keep the Orange ahead. Then, with just a few minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse made a counterattack and scored a second goal when Fogarty could not stop a shot from Jordan Vale. Even with this loss, Villanova Head Coach John Carlin remained positive with his team having three conference games left in the regular season.
Even after this crushing loss to a Big East rival, the ’Cats did not have time to sulk, as they traveled to Louisville, Ky., for a conference game against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night. The Cardinals, ranked No. 21 in the nation, were celebrating their Senior Night on Saturday, making Cardinal Park a loud and frenzied environment. Seeming to build off the energy of the crowd, the Cardinals started this game fast, outshooting Villanova 10-4 in the opening 45 minutes.
Trying desperately to hold on throughout the first half, the ’Cats committed a critical penalty in the box late in the half, giving the Cardinals a penalty kick against Fogarty. Fogarty saved the initial shot, but Andrew Farrell was able to head the rebound into the net to give the host Cardinals a 1-0 lead. This would be all they needed in the game.
Even with these two losses, the ’Cats control their destiny. If Villanova can beat both Rutgers and Pittsburgh, their last two remaining regular season conference opponents, it would secure the No. 3 position in the Red Division of the Big East Conference and would qualify them for the Big East Championship.
This would earn them a bye into the quarterfinal round. As Head Coach Carlin said, the playoffs are not something Villanova still has to qualify for.
“For us, the playoffs have already started,” he pointed out. “These next two games are playoff games for us. There are a lot of different scenarios but the important thing is for us to get in.”
This road to the Big East Championship will continue on Oct. 24 as the ’Cats travel to Piscataway, N.J., to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.