Sept. 29, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova got a score from sophomore Hayden Harr late in the second half to earn a 1-1 tie with No. 13 USF in a spirited affair played Saturday afternoon at the Villanova Soccer Complex. The Wildcats are now 7-2-1 overall, 0-0-1 in BIG EAST play while their Red Division rival is now 6-2-2 overall, 1-0-1 in the conference.
"Both teams are so familiar with each other and it was the kind of tough match we anticipated," stated Villanova associate head coach B.J. Callaghan.
With the largest home crowd of the season in attendance on West Campus (987) the two squads spent the early portion of the afternoon probing to find an opening. There weren't many in the first 45 minutes as the two teams each generated six shots. Neither USF's Eric Osswald of Villanova's John Fogarty were tested much in the first half and both made a single save.
After intermission, the texture of the game changed. Chances developed more frequently than in the first half and VU had a quality opportunity in the 50th minute when a header from junior William Cason sailed over the Bulls' goal.
USF broke through at the 66:00 minute mark after a foul was whistled on the Wildcats just outside the penalty area on the right side of the box. Roberto Alterio sent a ball across the box to Sebastien Thuriere near the left post. Thuriere touched a pass to Brenton Griffiths directly in front of the net and Griffiths calmly chipped the ball into the goal and the Bulls had the 1-0 advantage.
"There was definitely a sense of urgency at that point for our guys," stated Callaghan. "We had to chase the game but I thought our guys responded well. This group has been in a lot of big games over the last few years. We kept our composure."
Indeed, from that point forward the Wildcats had the better of play. There were several chances that Osswald and his backline thwarted before a key sequence developed with just over six minutes remaining in regulation.
After a foul was whistled on USF just inside the midfield line, freshman Sean Sheridan quickly re-started the action and found an unmarked Oscar Umar along the right side. Umar dribbled briefly and then lofted a ball into the box. Harr, who entered the game as a reserve in the second half, elevated and headed the ball into the upper part of the net at 83:58. It was the sophomore's first goal of 2012.
"Our guys had been out there working hard for 70 plus minutes and my legs were fresh," noted Harr. "Oscar sent a great ball into me and I was able to get a piece of it."
The crowd erupted with a roar once the Wildcats had the equalizer.
"The fans were great," said Harr. "That's definitely the loudest it's been since I've been here."
Neither team could get the upper hand in the waning moments of regulation which brought extra time. Both squads would get one terrific chance in overtime.
For USF, it came in the 97th minute. A long lead pass found Alterio in stride and the sophomore was able to elude a charging Fogarty 22 yards in front of the net. He dribbled to his right and eyed a wide open net. However, a bouncing ball on a soft natural turf appeared to roll up on him as the Wildcats defense closed. His shot sailed over the net.
In the second overtime, a blast from Soroka looked like it might be a game-winner but was stopped by Osswald.
The final was a 1-1 draw.
"Our goal is always to get the three points," said Callaghan, "but we showed a lot of resiliency against an outstanding Big East team today, so we'll take this and move on."
Next up for the Wildcats is another matchup with a Red Division power. Villanova visits St. John's on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.