VILLANOVA, PA. 8/25/2019 – Both teams were coming off opening game shutout victories. Villanova upset #24 LSU 1 – 0 while Saint Joseph’s defeated city rival Drexel in their match by the same score. Last season the Wildcats started the year by posting road wins over both teams. This season Nova and Saint Joe’s battled to a 1 – 1 double overtime tie at the Higgins Soccer Complex in an expected close game.
“Every time we play them it’s a great chess match,” said Villanova Coach Chris McLain. “When you play Saint Joe’s it’s going to be a 1 – 0 game going either way. Even though we felt like we dominated the game, they find a way to get another goal. That’s who Saint Joe’s is, and that’s why it’s such an awesome game to play in. We got the tie today.”
Saint Joseph’s took an early lead scoring in the 30th minute when Aleksa Peev scored off a cross shot from the left side of the goal. Villanova had a shot advantage, but could not find the back of the net until the 54:09 mark when Kristin Barbour converted off a free kick to knot the game. It was a question of perseverance for Nova.
“For us the big piece is to maintain possession, dominate that part of the game, and wait for the good opportunities to come,” said McLain. “We stuck to our plan and got a lot of great opportunities. We just couldn’t find that final piece.”
In the second overtime the Wildcats appeared to get a break when Chloe O’Neill, who had 3 shots on goal, came down the middle. The Hawk defense got a foot on the ball and deflected it out of bounds.
“It was unfortunate because Chloe worked so hard all game,” McLain said. “We try to play for those moments when she can break free. The keeper did a good enough job to just get her a little bit to knock her off balance and didn’t get the chance to equalize.”
Villanova had an advantage in shots 17 – 7 and 9 – 2 on goal. Saint Joe’s had to rely on their defenders Goal Keeper Emily Cuccio made 8 saves.
“Our defense did do really well,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Jess Mannella. “We got scored on a free kick, not a play.”
Both teams are 1 – 0 – 1 on the season and have scored 2 goals while giving up just one. The Hawks got a picture of where they are in the city after the first week of play.
“It’s a great way to see where you stand right away,” Mannella said. “It was great to play both Philly teams. We improved from the Drexel game to this game significantly. Hopefully, we can keep that going and get better and better.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian