by Sean Campbell
The men’s soccer team took the long trip to Chicago, Ill. Saturday as it faced off against a struggling DePaul Blue Demons team.
The Wildcats were coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Providence and saw the DePaul matchup as an opportunity to regroup.
“In this Wednesday-Saturday format, you don’t have any time to get too high or too low,” Head Coach Tom Carlin told Villanova.com. “We’ve worked on correcting our mistakes and have to be ready for DePaul.”
The team seemed to have adjusted appropriately as the Wildcats scrapped out a hard fought 1-0 victory.
The lone goal of the game came in the 34th minute off the foot of junior forward Aaron Dennis. His shot from the middle of the box beat Blue Demon’s keeper Eric Sorby and gave the Wildcats an early lead.
“Any time you get that first goal it’s big,” Carlin related to Villanova.com. “It takes a little of the pressure off and you aren’t in position where you have to chase the game.”
Despite the first half goal, the Blue Demons held a slight edge on the Wildcats in shots on goal and they also had six more first half corner kicks.
DePaul continued to pressure Villanova’s defense in the second half but the Wildcats back line and junior keeper Andrew Weakly proved to be too strong.
After earning the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week last week, Weakly continued his impressive campaign against DePaul.
His five saves on the day helped shut out the Blue Demons and lead the Wildcats to victory.
DePaul outshot Villanova 18-10 on the day but it was never able to convert on its second-half scoring chances.
Though the game was not as one sided as Villanova had hoped it would be, the win was much needed.
“We’ll take the win,” Carlin said. “It wasn’t as pretty as we would have liked and DePaul really sent a lot of guys forward late in the game. But we held them off and got the three points, which we had to have.”
After the game, Carlin praised the team for staying motivated against DePaul despite coming off the tough loss to Providence.
“I thought the mood of the team was good,” Carlin explained. “We could have dwelled on that loss and allowed it to affect us moving forward. We didn’t do that, though. Our mental approach was good. We got the three points.”
The win was crucial for the Wildcats because a loss could have eliminated the team from playoff contention.
While Villanova improved to 8-7-1 overall and 3-4-0 in the Big East, the Wildcats still have a tough road ahead in the competitive conference.
With only six playoff bids to the Big East Championship, every game from here until Nov. 12 holds serious playoff implications. Villanova entered the weekend tied for 7th place in the Big East with Seton Hall with six points.
With the win against the Blue Demons, the Wildcats have won four out of their last five games. They are hoping that they can use this momentum to their advantage in their final two regular season contests against Xavier and Georgetown.
Both teams hold better records in the Big East than Villanova and should make for challenging matches. The Wildcats will have plenty of time to prepare, however, as their home matchup against Xavier is not until Saturday at 3 p.m.
This final home match should be another thriller since Villanova’s playoff chances are on the line once again.