Aug. 26, 2011
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova freshman Aaron Dennis (Elmont, N.Y./Elmont H.S.) scored a pair of goals in his college debut to help lift the Wildcats to a 2-0 victory over Manhattan College in the season opener for both teams on Friday afternoon at the West Campus Soccer Complex here.
After junior Emerson Lawrence (Newark, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) nearly got the Wildcats on the board in the ninth minute, it was left to Dennis to give Villanova its first goal of the new campaign. The newcomer dribbled the ball through traffic after accepting a feed from junior Kyle McCarthy on the left side, found an opening and fired a low shot at Manhattan goalkeeper Christopher Lands. Lands got his hands on the shot but couldn't stop it, and the ball rolled into the left side of the net at 18:26.
"Aaron likes to get after people and to go 1-v-1 on them," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "It's what he did in club soccer and what he does in practice. He likes to get after people and he has free rein to do that. He can make those kinds of plays for us and he did it then."
The lead was welcome.
"There's always a little nervous energy when you start the season and the goal removed that," Carlin stated. "We were able to settle in and play better soccer after that."
The Wildcats controlled the ball for the most part and that dominance of possession helped produce the game's second score. This one came courtesy of some nifty teamwork between Dennis and his roommate, freshman Oscar Umar (Accra, Ghana/South Kent School).
"I spoke to my roommate earlier today and told him to look for me breaking through," said Dennis. "Oscar found me with a great pass and all I had to do was finish it."
Umar threaded the ball between two defenders in Dennis' direction. Dennis calmly waited for the ball so as to avoid a whistle for being offside and then drilled another shot on the ground that Lands could not get a glove on to make it 2-0 at 34:39.
The Wildcats were in control the rest of the way. Manhattan's scoring chances were infrequent, despite the fact it owned a 6-0 edge in corner kicks. The Wildcats might have gotten more after intermission - senior Kevin Garcia and Lawrence created terrific chances - but were thwarted by Jasper goalie George Ellis, who came on in relief of Lands at halftime and made four second half saves.
"It was fun today, getting the win," noted Dennis. "But we know we can't be complacent. We have a lot more work to do."
Senior John Fogarty (Marmora, N.J./Ocean City), making just his second career start, earned the shutout in net on a relatively quiet afternoon. He made two saves, both in the first half. Villanova owned an 18-11 edge in shots.
The Wildcats are scheduled to resume action on Wednesday at 4:00 at the Soccer Complex against the Drexel Dragons.