Men's Soccer Continues Torrid Start in OT Thriller

On Tuesday, the Villanova Men’s Soccer team hosted the Fordham Rams in a tightly contested match that ultimately ended in a 1-0 victory for the Wildcats in double overtime. The Wildcats came into this game looking to pick up their fourth win after defeating Delaware, William and Mary and Temple to begin the season. On the other side of the pitch, the Fordham Rams were looking for their first victory of the year. 

In the first half, neither side could find the net, but each certainly had its opportunities. Fordham got off nine shots before the break, but only one was on target. On the other hand, Villanova only had five shots, but had five on goal and a few very close chances. 

Villanova had its best early opportunity 23 minutes in when a through ball was just out of the reach of senior, Conor Bradley, and was recovered by the Fordham keeper. Villanova had another great chance with about 10 minutes to play before half when junior Tommy Nealon drew a free kick making a run up the right hand side. After a cross from Marcus Brenes, Shane Bradley received a rebounded header, but did not get a clean enough shot to put it in the back of the net. On the other side, Fordham had its best opportunity of the first half with around three minutes to go as midfielder Kristian Shkreli had two good looks, a powerful strike that was deflected by the Villanova defense and then a header that went over the crossbar. 

Coming out of the half, both sides had great chances. Fordham had a breakaway for Filippo Ricupati following a slick pass that led to an open shot from the right side that was saved by ‘Nova goalie, Carson Williams. A few minutes after, the Wildcats had a great look of their own as midfielder Evan Vare hit the crossbar with a swerving strike from outside the box. With 29 minutes left to play, Ricupati had another great opportunity, but the score remained knotted. For the next 28 minutes, neither side generated much offensively, but in the final minute Paul Makaj of Fordham picked up a yellow card, and Villanova had a free kick. On the next play, there were calls for a penalty as Villanova’s Josh Belluz fell, but nothing was rewarded and the game went into overtime. 

In the first overtime, Fordham had a scoring opportunity three minutes in as Sameer Fathazada dragged a shot to the left of the far post. Then, with three minutes left, Carson had a save on a cross from Fordham defender Jack Sluys. The intensity of the first overtime was carried over into the second extra period as Villanova picked up a quick corner. After the ball was put in play, Shane Bradley fed it to freshman forward Lyam MacKinnon who gave the Wildcats a well-earned victory. 

Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to University Park to take on the Nittany Lions on Friday. They will look to continue their hot start to the season against a formidable Big Ten club.