by Brett Klein
The men’s soccer team kicked off a new season Friday night against the New Mexico Lobos on the road. The Wildcats were overwhelmed by the 11th ranked team in the nation as New Mexico showed off its talent in a 7-2 thrashing.
The Lobos set the tone of the game early on by attacking the Villanova defense and getting numerous shots on goal. After the first half, New Mexico had put four shots into the back of the net and led the Wildcats 4-1.
Perhaps more staggering than the halftime score were some of the game statistics; they revealed a 17-3 shot advantage for New Mexico, which also took nine corner kicks as opposed to one for the ’Cats.
The Wildcats were able to keep the score even at zero for the first 20 minutes of the game before New Mexico scored.
Senior midfielder Michael Calderon took a corner kick for the Lobos midway through the first half and found junior forward James Rogers who finished the play with a goal. The onslaught began from there.
The ’Cats didn’t immediately surrender, though. Instead, they responded in under 30 seconds later to knot the game at one. Junior defenseman Matt Wiltse lobbed a long ball into the penalty box, which was tracked down by freshman forward Padraic McCullaugh and headed in for a goal.
However, that was the closest the Wildcats would come to offering the Lobos a fair fight.
Junior goalkeeper Andrew Weakly did his best to keep New Mexico’s offensive attack at bay, making several saves in the first half to prevent the deficit from increasing.
In the 27th minute, the Lobos held an 11-1 advantage in shots and Weakly could only keep the ball out of the net for so long.
The 1-1 tie was broken in the 31st minute when New Mexico received a penalty shot, which Calderon converted to give his team a 2-1 lead. Calderon was an integral part of the Lobos attack during the entire game and assisted on the team’s third goal by hitting junior defenseman Riley McGovern off yet another corner kick.
Four minutes later, Rogers knocked in his second goal of the game. This score pushed New Mexico’s lead to 4-1, which was a lead the Lobos would never relinquish.
The second half brought more of the same for both teams; the Lobos continued to attack ’Nova’s defense with success while the ’Cats continuously failed to cut into their opponent’s lead or even put pressure on their defense. Four minutes after the start of the second half, New Mexico freshman midfielder Niko Hansen scored off a well-placed ball from fellow freshman midfielder Josh Goss.
Calderon then notched his second goal of the game, which pushed the lead to 6-1, and Hansen did likewise in the 82nd minute to cap off the Lobos’ scoring for the game with the team’s seventh goal. Once the Lobos started scoring, there was little the Wildcats could do to stop the floodgates from opening.
The seven goals surrendered by Villanova were the most that the team had given up in a game since a 7-0 loss at the hands of St. John’s during the 1996 season.
Villanova sophomore midfielder Chris Hill narrowed the margin slightly late in the second half with a goal off a cross from junior midfielder Oscar Umar. The Wildcats would finish the game with just two goals, though, overmatched by one of the best teams in the nation.
“Our guys fought hard for a good portion of the game,” said Head Coach Tom Carlin. “We just made far too many mistakes against a great team.”
The ’Cats will look for their first win of the season on Saturday, Sept. 7 at home against Marist. The game will be played at the West Campus Soccer Complex at 1 p.m.