Oct. 26, 2011
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Villanova Wildcats (6-7-4 overall, 3-4-1 BIG EAST) got the game winning goal with just 54 seconds left in the second overtime to notch a 1-0 victory over the Syracuse Orange (3-11-1 overall, 1-6-1 BIG EAST) here on Wednesday night. The Villanova victory secures the `Cats a berth in the 2011 BIG EAST playoffs, which begin next week at campus sites.
The game-winner came from senior Matt Margiotta at 109:16. The play began in the Villanova end of the field on a Syracuse corner kick. VU sophomore Dylan Renna came up with the ball and then led a quick-counter attack, dribbling down the right side as the Orange defense frantically scrambled to slow him. Renna sent the ball across to Margiotta, who calmly faked the goalkeeper and then sent a shot into the back of the net.
"There was a lot of chaos around Marge yet he was very calm," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin of the final sequence. "It's great to have a senior step up for us like that and Renna did a good job of winning the ball and making a play."
With this result, Villanova retains fourth place in the BIG EAST Red Division with 10 points and can earn a first round home game with either a win or tie in Saturday's regular season finale against Louisville (eight points) at the Villanova West Campus Soccer Complex (1:00 p.m./Nova Nation All-Access). DePaul currently holds the sixth and final slot in the Red Division with seven points.
The Wildcats had the better of play in the first half, outshooting the Orange 9-5.
"I thought we played very well in the first half," stated Carlin of the Wildcats, who played without Kyle Soroka, who picked up a fifth yellow card last Saturday night at USF and was forced to sit this one out. "We were composed and had a lot of quality chances. Unfortunately, for us, we weren't able to get one."
The second half saw Syracuse, which was fighting for its own playoff life, change the tempo and create more chances of its own. But the Wildcat defense, anchored by goalkeeper John Fogarty, held firm and the contest was scoreless after 90 minutes.
"Our backline was outstanding all night," noted Carlin, "and Fogarty came up with a couple of big saves."
When the game shifted to overtime, Villanova did not have to force the action if it chose not to. A tie would have clinched the playoff spot as well and that was a consideration in the club's approach.
"We played to win, but we were a little more cautious because one point was all we needed to clinch," Carlin stated.
In the end, the Wildcats got the victory and enhanced their chances to host a game in their quest for the school's first ever BIG EAST playoff win.
"I feel like this team has battled all year," said Carlin. "We have had injuries and some bad luck at times but we have kept playing hard. Now we have a chance to earn a home playoff game against Louisville and once you get to the playoffs, it's a new season."
Fogarty made six saves in posting the shutout for the Wildcats.