By Mike Sheridan
Villanova Media Relations
He was in the first semester of his Villanova experience back then, but Sean Sheridan recalls the period on and around Nov. 4, 2012 quite clearly.
“I would say that’s still a little bit of a bitter memory,” says the Villanova senior who is usually stationed as a midfielder but has been used at multiple positions for the Wildcats over his four seasons.
The Wildcats were in Storrs, Conn., that afternoon for a critical match in their quest to become the first Villanova squad to reach the NCAA College Cup field of 48. VU carried a 12-5-2 record with it as it bused north through a region still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. In fact, there was no electricity that afternoon in Morrone Stadium so the hum of a generator could be heard at quiet moments.
In the end, Villanova fell to the Huskies 1-0 in a tightly contested match. When the 2012 College Cup bracket was announced, the Wildcats were not part of the field while a team that finished below them in the regular season standings, USF, was.
“That,” states Sheridan, “was pretty tough to handle.”
If there was a balm to be applied on that late fall afternoon, it came from the notion that there would be more chances to come.
“Looking forward you always think you have a good team each year,” he says, “but we haven’t put it all together.”
2015, then, represents the last quest to fill that void as collegians for Sheridan and fellow seniors Damilola Adetolda, Colton Bryant, Chris Hill and Michael Manta (the latter two joined the ‘Cats in the fall of ’12). And while much soccer remains to be contested, Sheridan likes what’s he’s seen thus far from a Wildcats’ side that brings a 2-0 mark with it into Saturday’s home match with Delaware (1-0-1) at the Higgins Soccer Complex (1 p.m./Nova Nation All-Access).
“I would say we have the best group of talent we’ve had here throughout my four years,” Sheridan notes. “Even more than the group we had my freshman year.”
What Sheridan recalls most about a contingent that included his former teammate at Neshaminy High School, Kyle Soroka, Ryan Whalen, Kyle McCarthy, Dylan Renna and John Fogarty, is its understanding of the import of each individual practice and game.
“The thing I think of is the way they went out there every day with a sense of urgency,” he states. “There were guys that talked a lot, like McCarthy and Whalen. Soroka and Renna just kind of went out there and did it.
“It was a very good thing for me that they all acknowledged me and were helpful with me coming in. It’s huge to be liked by your teammates.”
Sheridan came to soccer naturally before he was three years old. His father, Rich Sheridan, played collegiately at what is now Philadelphia University. Sean Sheridan’s brother, Steve Mellor, played soccer at Appalachian State and later Duquesne University.
“My parents got me going right away,” says Sheridan. “My brother is 10 years older than me and he was a very good player. I just idolized him. We really had a soccer family. We always watched games on TV. I think growing up around them gave me the desire to want to make it as a sense of pride to my dad and my brother.”
Sheridan’s skill led to opportunities on the youth soccer circuit at the Players Development Academy (PDA) and later for the New York Red Bulls developmental squad. By the time he entered his junior year at Neshaminy – where one of his friends was basketball standout Ryan Arcidiacono – it was time to closely examine colleges.
Sheridan had interest in Villanova immediately. Rich Sheridan had once helped coach a youth team at the Philly Soccer Club when Carlin was a young coach so he contacted the Wildcats’ leader to gauge the program’s interest in his son, who was now a junior. Offers had begun to flow in from other colleges.
“We’ve always watched this place,” states Sheridan. “It’s such a great school, I had gone to school with Soroka and it had always been a place where we had come to games. When Coach Carlin told my Dad they were very interested, it really wasn’t a hard decision.”
In fact, once Carlin and Sean Sheridan spoke on the phone, the choice was essentially made: Sheridan would become a Wildcat. His family members have become regulars at the Higgins Soccer Complex and their presence at home games is one reason why Sheridan has so enjoyed his college career.
Sheridan is enrolled in the Villanova School of Business and plans to put his degree – which he is on track to earn in December – to use whenever his days as a soccer player are finished. But there’s plenty left to do before then and Sheridan has been in the thick of things early, netting two goals in Tuesday’s come from behind 4-3 win over Drexel.
“I would say this team has a great spirit,” he states. “It’s been completely positive in the spring season and into this season. The new guys have brought a lot here too. I think this is the tightest-knit group that we have ever had in my time here.”
That vibe was, in Sheridan’s view, vital to the comeback win Tuesday. The Wildcats fell behind 2-1 and 3-2 in the second half on a sweltering afternoon when temperatures reached 95 degrees. There were plenty of reasons to accept that the deficit was too much on this day but the ‘Cats did not wilt. Sheridan’s second goal of the match tied the game at three and Padraic McCullaugh scored the winner with 4:08 left after a perfectly threaded cross from Christopher Bared.
“It’s tough going down 2-1 and 3-2,” Sheridan says, “but we just had so many guys who brought that fighting spirit – Padge, Max (Kroschwitz), Colton (Bryant) and Will (Steiner) – that it really helps everyone reach that level too. It’s been that way this entire year and it’s fun to be a part of that.”
As a rookie Sean Sheridan, was a fixture on an accomplished unit that matched the program standard for wins yet still fell agonizingly short of its final goal. Surrounded by a mostly new cast, Sheridan is convinced that the spirit and talent on display in the wins over Albany and Drexel is the kind of intangible that can help Villanova get where it wants to go.
The next step on that road comes Saturday against Delaware.