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by Greg Habeeb

Entering Saturday afternoon’s game against the University of Pittsburgh, the men’s soccer team stood at 2-3-2 in the Big East, meaning that they needed a victory in order to make the conference tournament and avoid an early end to its season.

While some teams would crumble under such pressure, the Wildcats (11-5-2 overall, 3-3-2 Big East) thrived on it.

’Nova netted three goals in the final seven minutes en route to a 4-0 thrashing of the Pitt Panthers, who fell to 0-8-0 in the Big East this season for a winless conference slate.

’Nova struck first in the 22nd minute on a goal by senior forward Ryan Whalen, a good omen as the Wildcats have won all nine of their matches this season when scoring the first goal.

Whalen was able to find the back of the net after a throw-in by junior forward Dylan Renna was redirected to Whalen by senior defender Kyle McCarthy.

Both McCarthy and Renna were credited with an assist on the play.

The score remained 1-0 when the whistle blew to signal halftime, despite a 12-5 shot advantage in favor of the Wildcats.

The barrage continued in the second half, where Villanova had a 12-3 shot advantage over the Panthers.

Despite the 24-8 shot differential, Pitt (6-9-2 overall record) was able to hang around for the first 80 minutes.

Their best chance to equalize the score came in the 63rd minute, when senior defender Alex Fischetti attempted an ambitious strike from 24 yards away that soared just over the goal.

It was the Panthers’ only shot on target all afternoon.

The floodgates finally opened for Villanova in the 83rd minute, as its constant offensive pressure broke Pittsburgh’s defense.

Senior defender Ryan Quane extended ’Nova’s lead to two goals by firing a shot into the top left corner after an attempt by sophomore midfielder Hayden Harr rebounded off the post and landed right at Quane’s foot.

’Nova struck again a mere 54 seconds later when Harr, not to be denied this time, cruised up the left side while deftly weaving through the Panthers’ defense. He slipped his fourth shot of the game past freshman keeper Dan Lynd to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. It was the Parsippany, N.J. native’s third goal of the season.

The final goal of Villanova’s offensive surge came by way of junior defender Adetomiwa Adewole, who notched his first career goal at 89:02 with a well-aimed shot inside the left post, serving as the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae for the Wildcats. Saturday’s match also doubled as Senior Day for the eight seniors on the team.

In addition to the aforementioned members of the Class of ’13, goalkeeper Chris Bresnahan, goalkeeper John Fogarty, midfielder Emerson Lawrence, midfielder Kyle Soroka and forward Alec Weiss were also honored for their dedication to the team in front of the home crowd of 867 fans.

The Wildcats’ first tournament game will be played today, where they will face off against Seton Hall University at the Villanova Soccer Complex.

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