Oct. 31, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - After being delayed one day due to the impact on the region from Hurricane Sandy, Villanova and Seton Hall are set to square off in the opening round of the BIG EAST Championship on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the Villanova Soccer Complex.
The Wildcats are 3-1 against Seton Hall (6-11-0 overall, 2-6-0 BIG EAST) under Tom Carlin, with the last meeting between the teams taking place in South Orange, N.J., on Oct. 1, 2011. On that occasion the Wildcats cruised to a 3-0 victory behind goals from Emerson Lawrence, Kyle McCarthy and Dylan Renna. In 2010, VU defeated the Pirates 1-0 on West Campus.
Seton Hall's last win in the series was a 2-0 triumph at the Soccer Complex in 2008. The Hall leads the all-time series 18-10-0 and owns a victory in the only prior BIG EAST Championship encounter between the two schools, a 4-0 win in a 1991 semifinal.
Villanova (11-5-2 overall, 3-3-2 BIG EAST) can match its single season high for victories with a win Thursday. Its previous best came during a 12-4 campaign in 1980. The current high-water mark is the most since the Wildcats began playing BIG EAST soccer in 1984.
Last season, the Wildcats earned their first two post-season victories by downing Notre Dame and USF by identical 1-0 scores. Villanova has hosted four previous BIG EAST Championship clashes at its Soccer Complex home. It earned draws against Georgetown in 2004 and 2005 but failed to advance on penalty kicks. It fell to Providence in both 2009 (2-1) and 2010 (3-0) when it hosted the Friars in opening round matches.
The Wildcats have out-scored their opponents 31-17 in 2012. Villanova has moved within striking distance of the school's all-time record for goals in a season, 36. Senior Kyle Soroka sets the pace with seven goals and a pair of assists for VU.
In its 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Villanova leaned on its seven-man senior class as starters Oscar Umar and Aaron Dennis sat out with injuries. One of those who filled the void was senior Ryan Quane. He stepped forward with his second goal of the season to give the `Cats breathing room in the second half.
"We went to our seniors and they responded," noted head coach Tom Carlin.
The Wildcats' defense has been strong throughout 2012, allowing an average of 0.94 goals per game. Center backs Kyle McCarthy and William Cason help lead the way in protecting the goal. In addition, senior goalkeeper John Fogarty has been a stalwart, posting an 0.87 goals against average while making all 18 starts for the `Cats.
Seton Hall is led in scoring by Max Garcia (six goals, three assists) and George Velasquez (four goals, three assists). The Pirates last five games in 2012 were played against nationally ranked foes.
The winner of Thursday's match advances to meet the top seed in the BIG EAST's Blue Division, Connecticut, on Saturday night in Storrs, Conn.
The game Thursday can be accessed via the Nova Nation All-Access Pass at villanova.com with Nick Mantegna handling the play-by-play.