Oct. 22, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - When it comes to experience, there is often comfort in numbers for those in the coaching profession.
So it was for Villanova head coach Tom Carlin and his staff in 2012. The Wildcats leaned on a class of eight veterans, including four year starters Kyle McCarthy, Emerson Lawrence, Kyle Soroka and Ryan Whalen. In the end it added up to the best season in the modern history of the men's soccer program and a 12-6-2 overall record.
The departure of that group - which also included starting goalkeeper John Fogarty and key reserves Ryan Quane and Alec Weiss along with injured goalkeeper Chris Bresnahan - left a void that Carlin and Company knew would take time to fill.
In the mean time, it was imperative that the current senior class, a trio that features Adetomiwa Adewole, Daniel Gonzalez, and Dylan Renna, stepped forward in a large way. They have done that and nowhere was it more apparent than in the 1-0 win over No. 12 Creighton in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday night.
"Our seniors gave us great leadership," noted Carlin as he assessed the triumph, the Wildcats' first over a ranked opponent away from home since a pair of wins at Notre Dame and USF in the 2011 BIG EAST Championship.
Adewole has quietly played a critical role for the Wildcats, who enter Wednesday's contest against Providence with a 7-6-1 overall mark and 2-3-0 in the BIG EAST. Entering the season the native of Ashton, Md., had appeared in 13 games over his first three seasons without recording a point. His versatility was an asset - he has played defense and midfield as well as forward in his tenure - but opportunities during games were infrequent.
He has given Villanova a crucial lift in his fourth year in the program.
Early in the campaign the `Cats were producing chances but not as many goals as would have been preferred. Adewole picked up an assist on the goal that helped the Wildcats earn a 1-1 tie against Hartford on Sept. 3 and then scored a goal as part of a 3-goal second half that helped VU down Marist 3-0 on Sept. 7. He scored his second goal of the season at Monmouth on Sept. 11.
On Saturday night, he was not credited with an assist on the game-winning goal scored by Renna at 99:28. But his ability to help Renna gain possession on a header played an important role in the score.
"That was a big play - it really gave Renna the chance to get that ball," stated Carlin. "Tomi's ability to get his head on that ball was the kind of small play that sometimes gets lost. He's been making those kind of plays for us all year."
Gonzalez has been a vital element in Villanova's defensive midfield all season. The native of Allen, Texas has started all 14 games and quietly has helped a defense that brings a shutout run of 286:38 into Wednesday's match against the Friars. His ball skills help the Wildcats transition smoothly to the offensive end.
"Danny just keeps plugging along," stated Carlin. "He's so reliable and someone we count on."
The final member of the senior class is a veteran who was named first team All-BIG EAST in the pre-season. The product of Don Bosco (N.J.) High School has been a critical facilitator for Villanova all season and has demonstrated a knack for scoring important goals over the course of his four years in the blue and white.
"Renna has put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses these last few weeks," Carlin says. "He generated three or four chances before he scored the goal at Creighton."
What this group lacks in numbers, it has made up for in production. The trio has helped point the way for a lineup that includes many athletes seeing their first extended exposure at the BIG EAST level.
"We were hoping that we would get better as the season went along," stated Carlin. "We have done that and the seniors deserve credit for helping show our younger guys the way."
Providence (8-3-2 overall, 3-2-0 BIG EAST) returns to Villanova for the first time since 2010. The Friars eliminated the Wildcats from the BIG EAST Championship in three consecutive seasons from 2008-10. The last two of those defeats came on West Campus. In fact, PC brings a four game winning streak in the series into Wednesday's encounter.
Kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. and the contest will be streamed via the Nova Nation All-Access Pass at villanova.com.