The men’s soccer team fell short in a defensive battle against local rival, Temple. (Kristina Sumfleth/The Villanovan)
by Nick Toland
The visiting Temple Owls defeated the men’s soccer team 1-0 last Saturday afternoon in the team’s first matchup against another member of the Philly Soccer Six.
As the clock dwindled down into the final seconds of the first half neither team had broken the 0-0 deadlock. But that would only last for a matter of moments.
The Owls took control of the ball in their own zone with less than one minute remaining in the half and a few passes later drew a Villanova foul in the Wildcats’ zone.
The foul was one of six committed by the Wildcats that afternoon but would ultimately prove to be the most costly.
With three seconds left in the half, Temple senior midfielder Nolan Hemmer struck a free kick opportunity towards redshirt freshman forward Donovan Fraser who one-timed a shot on Villanova’s net.
Junior goalkeeper Andrew Weekly was able to make the initial save but the rebound careened directly back to Fraser, who did not miss twice.
Fraser’s first collegiate goal would also end up as his first game-winning goal as Villanova was unable to respond in the second half and dropped their third away game of the season to an Owls team that improved their record to 4-0 at home.
The game began with the intensity that would be expected in a Philly Soccer Six matchup, and a surge by Villanova would give senior forward Dylan Renna the first good scoring chance 12 minutes into the first half.
Renna directed a strong header towards Temple’s net but junior goalkeeper Dan Scheck was in perfect position to catch the attempt and stop the threat.
The rest of the first half was evenly fought as the Owls responded with offensive surges of their own but Weekly made two saves of his own that kept the score 0-0 until Fraser’s last second goal.
At the end of the first half, the Owls had only outshot the Wildcats by one, but one was enough to tilt the scoreboard in their favor.
The Owls brought the momentum from Fraser’s goal into the beginning of the second half by dominating the pace of play in the first 15 minutes.
Temple put three shots on goal in 10 minutes but two sailed over the crossbar, and the third was stopped by Weekly.
Villanova sophomore midfielder Sean Sheridan helped apply some retaliation pressure on Temple’s defensemen with one of his two shots at the 55-minute mark.
However, the shot missed wide and the Wildcats were unable to record a shot on goal for the next 20 minutes of play.
Things heated up again for Villanova in the final 10 minutes of the contest, as the team felt the pressure to keep the ball in Temple’s zone.
Renna, who was around Temple’s net the entire afternoon, put another shot on goalkeeper Scheck just short of the 80-minute mark of the contest, but once again, Scheck was in position to keep the Wildcats off the scoreboard.
After two shots by Villanova, junior midfielder Oscar Umar went wide and the second shot was blocked. The Wildcats were down to their final hopes.
A last minute surge by the Wildcat offense resulted in a scoring opportunity.
The ball was knocked out in Temple’s defensive zone, which gave the Wildcats a corner kick with less than two minutes remaining.
Umar took the kick while nearly every player from both teams crowded the box in front of the net, but Temple’s defensemen repelled the attempt once again, continuing its consistent defensive play.
The Wildcats recorded eight shots in the second half, and had 14 overall to Temple’s 13.
Each goalie made four saves and Sheck improved his save percentage to .900 for the season shutting out the Wildcats in their first scoreless game of the season.
After defeating Penn, last Tuesday at the West Campus Soccer Complex ’Nova is now 3-3-1 on the season and will travel to Indianapolis, Ind. this Saturday to face Butler.