Wildcats Down No. 5 USF 1-0 to Reach BIG EAST Semifinal
Nov. 6, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. - After earning their first BIG EAST Championship victory on Thursday night at Notre Dame, the Villanova Wildcats wasted no time in claiming their second. The Wildcats got an early goal from junior Kyle Soroka and went on to defeat No. 5/7 USF 1-0 in a BIG EAST Quarterfinal match played here on Sunday afternoon.
With the triumph, Villanova advances to Friday evening's semifinal at Red Bull Arena against the winner of today's St. John's at West Virginia match. VU posted its second straight triumph over a Top 20 team, having defeated No. 18/19 Notre Dame on the road on Thursday night.
"This is enormous for our program," stated head coach Tom Carlin. "We faced adversity this season and this group of guys showed great character every step of the way. It is a testament to their grit and determination that we are moving on."
Only eight days removed from near-blizzard conditions in the regular season finale on the Main Line Oct. 29 against Louisville, Villanova and USF were treated to ideal weather conditions here at Corbett Stadium. There was a light breeze blowing under sunny skies with temperatures in the high 70's at kickoff.
The Wildcats stunned the crowd just 2:10 into the game after USF was whistled for a foul outside the top of the box. Junior Kyle Soroka sent a low shot that curled through a crowded box and eluded USF goalkeeper Chris Blaise, rolling just inside the right post. Just like that, VU had itself a 1-0 edge.
"The early goal was huge for us," stated Carlin. "It takes the edge off and really allowed our guys to relax."
In the 19th minute freshman Aaron Dennis won a ball at midfield and dribbled in towards the net in a bid for another score. He found Soroka on the right side, fed him the ball, and watched Soroka send the ball back on a cross. However, the ball arrived a tad ahead of Dennis' foot and the score remained 1-0.
Soroka nearly added his second goal of the first half in the 35th minute. Sophomore William Cason fed an excellent ball ahead to Soroka, whose low shot tested Blaise. But the USF keeper made the save.
Less than a minute later freshman Aaron Dennis sent a terrific shot that Blaise could only knock down but not control. However, the Bulls cleared the rebound before VU could get a toe on it.
The Wildcats ended the first 45 minutes with a 6-2 edge in shots. Ironically, the score at the break was identical to Villanova's first visit here on Oct. 22. In that instance, USF scored twice after intermission on set pieces to pick up the 2-1 win.
"We learned from that last visit," stated Carlin. "We talked about limiting their set pieces because they are so dangerous on those. We had to move our feet and limit the fouls. In the first half we carried out our game plan to a T."
The wind became more of a factor in the second half as clouds built over the stadium. The Bulls saw Sebastien Thuriere send a rocket towards the Villanova net in the 56th minute that sailed wide of the `Cats cage.
USF turned up the pressure in the final 15 minutes, putting 10 players into the Villanova end of the field. Junior Kyle McCarthy twice thwarted the Bulls Dom Dwyer, knocking away a pair of scoring bids. A potentially dangerous lob across the box sent in by Thuriere was collected in mid-air by Fogarty to cut off another opportunity.
"Kyle McCarthy was outstanding," stated Carlin. "To help hold a player as skilled as Dom Dwyer to zero shots is an amazing effort."
The Bulls were awarded a corner kick in 86th minute and Fogarty again snatched the ball out of the air before trouble could begin for the Wildcats.
Fogarty saved his best work for the 89th minute. Stiven Salinas sent a laser towards the upper right hand corner of the net that the senior leaped and deflected with his right hand to keep the shutout intact.
"They really came at us in the final 15 minutes and to win a big game like this you have to get a great save - Fogarty gave that to us," stated Carlin.
The win snapped an 11-game USF unbeaten streak that dated to Sept. 16 (9-0-2). Villanova becomes the first BIG EAST team to defeat the Bulls this season - USF was 7-0-2 in regular season conference play.
So less than 72 hours after recording their first BIG EAST Championship win, the Wildcats had their second. And with it comes a date in the semifinals on Friday night in Harrison, N.J., where VU will try to add a third to their ledger.