PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Villanova head coach Tom Carlin has described soccer as "a cruel game at times." It was just that on Sunday afternoon for the Wildcats, who dropped a 1-0 decision to the Air Force Academy despite out-shooting the Falcons 25-13 while forcing goalkeeper Matt Underwood to make nine saves to post the shutout.
The loss snaps the Wildcats' season opening four-game winning streak (4-1-0 overall) while Air Force (2-2-1 overall) completed a weekend sweep of Philadelphia after downing Penn 2-1 on Friday night.
"We left things up for chance because we weren't able to put away any of our chances," stated Carlin. "When you have 25 shots and don't convert any of them, it can come back to haunt you."
There were multiple scoring chances for the Wildcats in the game's first 20 minutes but Underwood stood tall in the first half, making five saves. Villanova owned a 13-8 edge in shots and there were a number of tantalizing chances available at different points in the first 45 minutes. However, the game was deadlocked at zero when the halftime horn sounded.
The flow of the game continued in Villanova's direction in the second half. Senior Alec Weiss had a bid that Underwood thwarted in the 67th minute with a save while freshman Sean Sheridan had another near-miss a short while later.
The contest remained deadlocked, though, and Air Force finally broke through after a Villanova foul on the left side of the field gave the Falcons a free kick. Kevin Durr served a ball into the box, where Brian Klazura was able to elevate and re-direct a header into the net past John Fogarty at 77:27 to notch the only goal of the day.
"It was a set piece we didn't defend as well as we needed to," Carlin noted. "Air Force made the play and they deserve credit."
Villanova kept the heat on over the final minutes but could never find the missing ingredient to extend their season-opening streak of wins.
"This was our first Friday-Sunday set of games and we need to take this lesson and learn from it," stated Carlin. "We battled today but didn't get the result. Now, we have to get back, take care of our bodies, and have a good week of practice before the BIG EAST/Ivy Classic next weekend."
Villanova will be back in Center City on Friday night in the opening round of that event to meet Penn on its home pitch at Rhoads Field (7:30 p.m.). On Sunday, Princeton visits the West Campus Soccer Complex at 1:00 p.m.