Sept. 21, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa. - As a team with no seniors in 2006, Villanova was sometimes overwhelmed when times got tough in heated BIG EAST action. But in its conference opener here this afternoon, the Wildcats (6-1-0 overall, 1-0-0 BIG EAST) recorded their sixth consecutive victory and first in league play by holding off a persistent Marquette Golden Eagles squad (1-4-1 overall, 0-2-0 BIG EAST) for a 1-0 win.
"We've been able to stand up and weather the storm this season," stated VU head coach Larry Sullivan. "We got off to a good start today and then kind of sat back against a young Marquette team that is getting better. I thought we were fortunate to get out of here with a win but I think it says something about our maturity this year."
The contest really was a tale of two halves. The first belonged to Villanova for the most part. The `Cats jumped on top at the 15:16 mark when junior Joe Taylor (Southampton, Pa./Archbishop Wood High School) found sophomore Mike Seamon (Rahway, N.J./Union Catholic High School) to the left of Golden Eagle goalie Matt Pyzdrowski. Seamon sent a low shot towards the lower right corner of the net that Pyzdrowski partially deflected but was unable to control. The result was Seamon's sixth goal of the season and fifth in his last three games.
Villanova owned a 6-4 edge in shots and the Golden Eagles only managed one shot on goal.
As the second half played out, however, Marquette kept pressing and generated a handful of good opportunities over the game's final 15 minutes. One of the best was a long blast off the foot of Mehdi Eslami in the 79th minute that was headed for the top of the net before Villanova keeper Jason Friel (Dublin, Pa./Pennridge High School) got a hand on the shot and knocked it over the crossbar. Friel made several key stops in the final minutes to preserve the `Cats fifth consecutive shutout and a string of scoreless soccer that now has lasted 507:51, dating to the first half of Villanova's Sept. 4 win over Siena.
"We've really come together defensively," stated junior back Miles Harrison of Louisville, Ky. "We are playing well together and Friel has been awesome. It really helps when you know your goalie is playing that well. Now we just have to try to keep it going."
The Wildcats, ranked No. 23 in this week's collegesoccernews.com poll, faces a formidable challenge on Sunday afternoon as No. 3/4 Notre Dame travels to the Main Line for a contest that is set to begin at noon. The two schools have not met since the 2004 season and the Fighting Irish hold a 9-1 series advantage over the Wildcats and bring an eight game winning streak in the series with them into the Soccer Complex.
"As a competitor, you look forward to the challenge," notes Sullivan. "You go to college to test yourselves and this will be a great test for our team."
NOTES: Seamon has now scored a goal in four straight games and has three game-winners to his credit thus far.
"Seamon is really excited about this team," says Sullivan. "He now has a year under his belt and he understands what soccer at this level is all about. We're seeing defenses mark him with two or three guys and he's been tremendous. I think we need to find another guy or two to help take some of the pressure off him to score."
The No. 23 ranking is Villanova's first appearance in a national top 25 since the 2004 season.