On a day filled with many adverse obstacles, Villanova showed its resiliency, toughing out a 3-1 road win at the DePaul Blue Demons to move to 6-3-1 (2-0-0) on the year.
The match was plagued with foul weather from the opening kickoff, as rain and blustering wind coupled to make the conditions very troublesome for both sides.
‘Nova appeared to jump out to an early 1-0 advantage when sophomore Ryan Whalen drove home a rebound off of a Joe Schmid blast from 22 yards out. However, the ‘Cats left back was flagged for offsides in decision which was dubious at best.
As the half drew to a close, DePaul managed to draw first blood, benefitting from an unfortunate deflection which left midfielder Antonio Aguilar open in the box with the ball. Aguilar made a crafty move before slotting a shot through a sea of legs.
The Blue Demons went into the halftime interval with a 1-0 lead as the rain continued to steadily fall.
The second half saw a much more defensive DePaul side, as they sat deep in their own end conceding possession to Villanova. The Wildcats quickly made the most of their possession dominance, creating a couple of solid chances for sophomore Kyle Soroka.
The breakthrough finally came midway through the half. Swinging the ball from right to left in the attacking third, Whalen received a pass on the left wing and cut the ball back on to his right foot. Failing to be closed by a defender, Whalen whipped a beautiful strike into the far post upper 90 to level the score at one a piece.
Now in a rhythm, ‘Nova kept DePaul on the back foot as it pressed to take a lead. The visiting Wildcats were rewarded for their bullishness with two goals in the last ten minutes.
The first of which came on a free kick along the left hand sideline following a Blue Demons foul. Schmid stepped up and curled a dangerous ball into the 18 box. Junior captain Kevin Garcia smartly dummied the ball as it skipped off the wet turf, allowing it to run between his legs. The feint fooled DePaul’s ‘keeper, allowing the ball to run straight into the back of the net for a 2-1 Villanova lead.
Merely three minutes later, freshman Dylan Renna added an insurance goal off of some hard work by Soroka. Soroka used his tremendous leaping ability to flick a ball on to Renna just outside of the 18 box. Renna made his way in to the box where he cut the ball on to his right foot, bending a gorgeous finish into the far post for ‘Nova’s third goal of the half. With only five minutes remaining, the Wildcats comfortably held on for a very important road victory.
With the win, Villanova maintains its place atop the Big East Red Division standings after two matches. Next up is a road date with the Penn St. Nittany Lions on Wednesday at 7pm. After that the ‘Cats will return to conference play on Saturday night, taking on perennial power South Florida Bulls at PPL Park. We hope to see all of our alums there!
...The guys have really rebounded from a somewhat slow start to the season...a couple of tough games coming up before what hopefully will be a phenomenal night at PPL Park...everyone should make it out there!...
For more on the game, including Coach Tom Carlin's thoughts, check out Villanova.com.