Sep 3, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (0-1-1 overall, 0-0-0 BIG EAST) and the University of Hartford (1-0-1 overall, 0-0-0 America East) staged a 1-1 draw under sunny skies today at the Villanova Soccer Complex. Both goals were scored in the first 45 minutes before the defenses took control after intermission.
"We battled today," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin.
The Wildcats were firmer on defense after surrendering seven goals in the season opener last Friday at No. 11 New Mexico.
"We made so many mistakes against New Mexico and just didn't execute when we needed to against a very good team," said Carlin. "Today we won a lot of battles. We didn't get the result we hoped for but we've known that this is going to take some time as these young guys adjust to new roles. We just have to keep getting better and today we were better than Friday night."
The Wildcats had two terrific chances in the game's first 20 minutes. In the 10th minute sophomore Sean Sheridan sent a laser of shot from 24 yards away that Hartford starting goalkeeper Viltsu Tuumi got just enough of his glove on to deflect off the crossbar and over the net.
A few minutes later, in the 20th minute, senior Dylan Renna had another prime chance but his show rolled just to the left of the Hawks' net.
After eluding those potential early chances, Hartford capitalized off some nifty work in the box in front of Wildcats goalie Andrew Weakly. Rohan Roye and Omar Tall worked the ball into the air in front of the VU net. It found teammate Javoni Simms, who had scored Hartford's only goal in a 2-1 loss to VU last season. Simms took advantage of his opportunity, heading a ball into the left side of the net at 32:10 to give Hartford the game's first goal.
It appeared that Hartford would take a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, just as it had a year ago in the meeting at Penn Park in Philadelphia. But Villanova struck with just 53 seconds to play in the period off some persistence near the Hawks net. After an initial shot was blocked by a Hawks defender, senior Adetomiwa Adewole got the ball to back Willis Griffith, who directed a shot past Tuumi to even the score as halftime dawned.
While the first half was filled with scoring chances, the second half was much different. The two squads combined for a total of 13 shots in the second period (VU held a 7-6 edge in that category).
The game moved into overtime and both goalies - Hartford switched to David McKinnon at halftime - were equal to every challenge. The contest ended in a draw.
"We knew we had to bounce back today," stated junior back Colton Bryant. "It was a big stage on Friday, lots of horns, and we didn't handle it as well as we would have liked to. We tried to learn from that."
Villanova is working in an entirely new back four and Weakly is in his first season as the primary goalkeeper after serving as an understudy to John Fogarty for the past two seasons. Bryant, freshman Willis Griffith and outside backs Matt Wiltse and Liam Callahan have little in the way of shared experience at this early stage of the campaign.
"This was only our second game together," noted Bryant.
"They're learning on the job," added Carlin. "They will make some mistakes, that's part of the process. But they're improving and when they do make mistakes, we need Weakly to come up big. I thought he did that today."
Weakly made six saves on the day.
Next up for the Wildcats is a Saturday match against Marist at the Soccer Complex which gets underway at 1:00 p.m. (Nova Nation All-Access).