Strong Second Half Lifts 'Cats Past Penn 5-3
Sept. 14, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - After being held to zero goals for the first time in 2012 in a 1-0 loss to Air Force last Sunday afternoon, the Villanova Wildcats returned to the University of Pennsylvania Friday night hoping to re-ignite an offense that been dominant in the early stages of the campaign.
The Wildcats accomplished that and more, exploding for a 5-3 victory over Penn (0-5-0 overall) here on Friday evening at Rhodes Field. VU rallied from a 3-2 halftime deficit to post the win and improve to 5-1-0 on the season. The victory was claimed without senior forward Kyle Soroka, who was ruled out of this weekend's games against Ivy League foes Penn and Princeton due to a knee injury.
Senior Emerson Lawrence notched a pair of goals, giving him four in six outings. This marks the second time in six games this season that the Wildcats have notched five goals. Prior to 2012, they had not recorded a five goal game since the opener of the 1998 season against Temple.
"Penn had a good game plan and hurt us in transition in the first half," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "They were able to ignite transition opportunities and had the upper hand at halftime. But we made some adjustments and did a much better job in the second half. We kept attacking and were able to get the goals we needed."
The robust scoring began at 28:57 when Penn's Mariano Gonzalez put home a rebound shot to stake the Quakers to the lead. Sophomore Aaron Dennis responded for VU with an unassisted goal at 30:54 off a scrum in front of the net to knot matters at one.
Villanova was awarded its first penalty kick of the season at 32:48 and senior Emerson Lawrence converted the opportunity to move out to a 2-1 advantage. But the Quakers' Duke Lacroix, who picked up an assist on Penn's first goal, scored the equalizer in the 39th minute to knot matters at two.
The night's second penalty kick was awarded to Penn at 44:29 and the Quakers' Travis Cantrell made the chance count to give the home squad a 3-2 lead at intermission.
One week ago, Villanova had rallied from a 1-0 halftime hole in a game played on Penn's campus (Penn Park) with a pair of second half goals to upend Hartford 2-1. This time, the `Cats came up with another strong finish to earn the win.
"We have a lot of upperclassmen in this group and I think we have shown some maturity in these situations," noted Carlin. "After the game, though, we talked about how it's great that we have the character to come from behind, but that we need to put together a full 90 minutes of playing our game so that we aren't in that situation."
Freshman Sean Sheridan fed a ball into the box that sophomore Oscar Umar headed into the net at 50:17 to pull the Wildcats even at three. Then, at 75:15 senior Ryan Whalen sneaked down the right side from his outside back slot and fed a cross into the box that Lawrence was able to re-direct past Max Kurtzman to put the `Cats back on top at 4-3.
Junior Dylan Renna picked up his first goal of 2012 at 78:52 to give the Wildcats some breathing room in what would become a 5-3 final.
Senior John Fogarty picked up his fifth win of the season and delivered six saves in goal.
"The guys responded well and that's encouraging," said Carlin. "But we have to put this one in the rearview mirror and prepare for another good Ivy League team on Sunday in Princeton."
The Wildcats and Tigers staged an entertaining duel in their meeting last season in New Jersey, with Princeton picking up a 2-1 win. The teams square off on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at the West Campus Soccer Complex (Nova Nation All-Access).