Oct. 12, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats had been in search of an early goal and junior Aaron Dennis provided an important one to help send the `Cats on their way to a 2-0 victory over No. 22 St. John's in a BIG EAST match played this afternoon under overcast skies at the Villanova Soccer Complex.
"We told the guys, `this is what happens when you score goals,'" stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "That's a good team which is always well-coached. We talked about creating more chances than we had lately and I thought we did that today."
The Wildcats improve to 5-6-1 overall, 1-3-0 in the BIG EAST while the Red Storm drops to 6-5-1 overall, 0-3-1 in conference action.
On a windy day with a surface softened by heavy rains that fell in the area on Friday, Villanova hoped to break some season long trends on Saturday. Villanova had yet to hold a halftime lead in BIG EAST play and had too often relied on second half rallies for offense.
On this day, though, Dennis gave the Wildcats the kind of early advantage they had sought. Sophomore Sean Sheridan sent a ball across the box after being challenged by a Red Storm defender to Dennis, who was open on the left side. Dennis, a native of Elmont, N.Y., sent a ball along the grass that tucked neatly inside the near post at 12:57 and VU was in the lead.
"It's been a long time coming," said Dennis of the goal, his first of the campaign.
"We talk all the time about doing the hard work that leads to goals," Carlin stated. "Aaron followed that play in and was able to convert."
St. John's, which had generated the first three shots of the contest, kept the pattern up all day. The Red Storm would outshoot VU 12-7 in the first half and 29-12 on the afternoon. But the Wildcats were in position defensively at every turn and were aided by the strong work of junior goalkeeper Andrew Weakly, who made eight saves in posting his third clean sheet of 2013.
The Wildcats made the one goal edge stand up until they took advantage of another goal generated by hard work. Senior Dylan Renna won a race down the right side for a ball and sent a ball across the box that found freshman John Jlopleh waiting. The rookie's header beat Red Storm goalkeeper Rafael Diaz at 57:55 to give VU a bit of breathing room.
It was the first goal of Jlopleh's college career.
The barrage of Red Storm shots continued over the final 32 minutes but the ball generally stayed out of harm's way. Center backs Willis Griffith and Colton Bryant helped keep the area in front of Weakly clear at pivotal moments and junior Oscar Umar, stationed at right back, was very effective on the outside.
Renna also played a key role.
"Renna had another big game for us," noted Carlin of the senior, who was credited with an assist on the game's second goal.
Next up for Villanova is the final non-conference match of the regular season. Lehigh will be at the Soccer Complex on Tuesday for a contest that gets underway at 4:00 p.m. The contest will be streamed via the Nova Nation All-Access Pass at villanova.com.