VILLANOVA, PA 9/29/2012 – The Villanova men’s soccer team is building a rivalry with the University of South Florida Bulls in soccer. It was the Wildcats that defeated the Bulls in the Big East quarterfinals last year. USF is usually a ranked team, one that Villanova feels they equal to or looking to better. Villanova Sophomore midfielder Hayden Harr headed home a goal in the 84th minute to tie the score. It was a game where each team had golden opportunities to get the game winner in regulation and overtime, but neither did resulting in a hard earned 1 – 1 tie at the Villanova West Campus Soccer Complex.
“Our goal is to always get three points,” said Villanova Associate Head Coach B.J. Callaghan. “I thought our guys executed the game plan to put pressure on South Florida and disrupt their offense. We thought we had enough scoring chances to get three points (for a win). At the end of the day, the one to one draw, we’ll take it. We know every point in the Big East is valuable. “
The game was scoreless at halftime. USF came out in the second half and dominated the first 20 minutes. The Bulls broke through with a goal by defenseman Brenton Griffiths who tapped in a pass across the box by midfielder Sebastien Thuriere at the 66 minute mark. From there Villanova playing with a sense of urgency became the dominant offensive team owning a territorial advantage.
“There was definitely a sense of urgency,” said Callaghan. “Our guys didn’t back down. We took it up a notch. We had to chase the game at that point and our guys responded great. That’s due to experience and some serious senior leadership.”
The Wildcats broke through getting a free kick that Freshman defenseman Sean Sheridan sent to Sophomore midfielder Omar Umar along the right side. Umar lofted the ball toward the goal that Harr elevated and sent into the net in the 84th minute. It was the first goal of the season for the Morris Plains, NJ native who had 4 shots, 2 on goal.
“We were pressing them really hard, and the goal was coming,” said Harr. “Umar sent a ball from the right side and I was lucky enough to get it.”
Villanova kept the pressure on nearly getting the game winner at the end of regulation. In the overtime USF had a golden opportunity to score in the 97th minute when midfielder Roberto Alterio took a long pass, eluded the Villanova defense and Senior goal keeper John Fogarty, then lifted a bouncing ball over the cross bar. Villanova kept its composure getting the ball into the offensive zone where Senior midfielder Kyle Soroka blasted a shot that was grabbed by USF goal keeper Eric Osswald keeping the game even.
The tie showed that despite the momentum going against them at times, Villanova was resilient and took the momentum back. Harr feels that this is a trait of his team.
“There is a lot of resilience on this team,” Harr said. “We’re 7 – 2 for a reason. A big East game you’ve got to get up for. We felt their goal was lucky, but it happened, you can’t reverse it, and we had to show we are the class of the Big East now and we’re here to play.”
“It talks about what Coach Carlin preaches each day, next play, next play,” Callaghan said.
Villanova out shot USF 26 – 17, owning a 16 – 4 edge in the second half. Soroka and Umar had 6 shots each. Fogarty recorded 3 saves while Osswald had 9.
This was the Big East opener for the Wildcats who are 7 – 2 – 1 on the season. Villanova embarks on a two game road trip to St. John’s and DePaul before returning home against Lafayette on October 9.
Written By: Glenn Papazian