Oct. 27, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The task before the Villanova Wildcats against Pittsburgh on Saturday was straightforward. A victory would secure a spot in the BIG EAST playoffs. A loss would have ended the 2012 season. Against that backdrop, Villanova posted a 4-0 victory over the Panthers here on an overcast afternoon at the Soccer Complex on Senior Day.
A first half goal by senior Ryan Whalen gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead midway through the period and Villanova improved to 9-0 this season when scoring first. Three more goals came in a flurry in the game's final eight minutes.
Villanova is now 11-5-2 overall, 3-3-2 in the BIG EAST. The Wildcats finish the regular season with 11 points and will be either the fourth or fifth seed from the Red Division depending on the outcome of tonight's game between top seed Louisville and Cincinnati, which also has 11 points. If the Bearcats get a win or tie, they are the fourth seed and will play at home on Wednesday in the opening round. If the Cardinals earn three points, Villanova wins the tiebreaker over UC due to its victory over the Bearcats on Oct. 13 and would earn the No. 4 seed.
"We got the early goal, which was good, but felt like we needed another to feel comfortable," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "That was our message to the team at halftime. Continue to be aggressive and try to get that second goal. We didn't want to be in a position where a fluke play can tie the game, which would not have done the job for us."
The early scoring play came at 21:17. It began off a Dylan Renna throw-in from the sideline about seven yards away from the end line. His low throw went towards the box, where senior Kyle McCarthy got a touch on it and directed it to Whalen, who was positioned near the right post. Whalen tapped it into the right side of the net and the `Cats had the advantage they were looking for against Pitt (6-9-2 overall, 0-8-0 BIG EAST).
The score remained 1-0 at halftime. VU controlled the action, outshooting the Panthers 12-5 in the period.
Pitt's best chance of the day came in the 63rd minute when Alex Fischetti fired a ball from 24 yards out that sailed above the net.
The second goal of the game came at 83:49. Sophomore Hayden Harr sent a shot off the right post that rolled directly to senior Ryan Quane on the right side, 14 yards out. Quane sent a laser into the upper left side of the net to give the `Cats a 2-0 cushion.
"There was a great sense of relief after that," stated Carlin. "It felt like we were going to the playoffs."
Harr created the game's third goal as he brought the ball in on his own down the left side. He worked his way past two Panther defenders and then nudged the ball past goalie Dan Lynd and over the goal line at 84:43.
Junior Adetomiwa Adewole picked up his first career goal at 89:02 to complete the scoring.
Prior to the game, Villanova honored eight seniors who were making their final regular season home appearance at the Soccer Complex.
"We had a couple of guys banged up and we put this on the seniors," stated Carlin of a class which also includes Chris Bresnahan, John Fogarty, Emerson Lawrence, Kyle Soroka, Kyle McCarthy and Alec Weiss. "We started them all and they really came through for us. We're happy that we'll have the opportunity to be in the playoffs.
"It was tough after the Rutgers loss (on Wednesday). We no longer controlled our own destiny. When DePaul beat USF yesterday, we at least knew we controlled our own destiny. We told the guys to have fun with this opportunity and I think they did."
The BIG EAST will announce its playoff bracket later this evening. Opening round action is scheduled for campus sites on Wednesday, Oct.31 with quarterfinal action set for next Saturday.