Sept. 27, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova becomes the final BIG EAST team to open up its conference slate on Saturday afternoon when it hosts a familiar Red Division foe. No. 13 USF (6-2-1 overall, 1-0-0 BIG EAST) will be in town to face the Wildcats (7-2-0 overall, 0-0-0 BIG EAST) in a rematch of a playoff duel staged last November in Tampa, Fla.
Villanova upended USF, ranked No. 5 in the nation at the time, 1-0 to advance to the BIG EAST semifinals for the first time since 1993.
"USF just reloads," states Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "This is a very talented team that brings an attacking mindset. They are very good at keeping the ball and have the same defensive guys from last season, who are big and will be a handful."
The Bulls and Wildcats have gotten to know each other well in recent seasons as members of the BIG EAST Red Division. The squads met twice last season, with USF claiming a 2-1 victory on the strength of a pair of second half goals at home on Oct. 22, 2011. The two squads then squared off again on the Bulls' home pitch just two weeks later with a different outcome. Kyle Soroka's goal at 2:10 was the only marker of the day in a 1-0 Wildcat triumph that was preserved by a terrific leaping save by John Fogarty on a bid by Dom Dwyer in the final two minutes of play.
"They return a lot of guys from that team and you know that they have not forgotten that last meeting," says Carlin of USF, which would go on to defeat UCF and No. 10 New Mexico in the NCAA College Cup before being eliminated by No. 2 Creighton.
These teams also played a 0-0 tie in 2010 at PPL Park on the Bulls' most recent visit to the Philadelphia region.
USF defeated Providence 1-0 last Saturday night at home and then posted a 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast in its most recent action on Tuesday evening.
Villanova, meanwhile, enters BIG EAST action fresh from a pair of victories over Philadelphia Soccer Six rivals La Salle (2-1) and Temple (1-0). The Wildcats have notched 20 goals in their first nine games, an average of 2.2 per game. Last season, VU recorded 23 goals in 21 outings (1.1 per contest).
Goalkeeper John Fogarty picked up his second shutout of 2012 in Tuesday's win over the Owls. The senior from Marmora, N.J., sports an 0.91 goals against average and has started all of VU's games in net this season.
Senior Emerson Lawrence returned to the starting lineup on Tuesday after suffering an injury on Sept. 16 against Princeton that kept him out of the win over La Salle. One game earlier, Kyle Soroka, returned after a two-game absence on Sept. 14-16 owed to a strained knee ligament. The Wildcats have been without starting outside back Liam Callahan since a win over Colgate on Sept. 1. Callahan underwent ankle surgery earlier this month and will not return to action until next season.
"It's important for us to remain committed to the approach which has gotten us to this point," states Carlin. "Now it's time for the Big East and our goal is to try to build on the early momentum we have created against an outstanding USF team."
Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Nova Nation All-Access).