This past Saturday, the men’s soccer team faced Temple for the first time this season. Coming off of an electric home win against Yale on Sept. 6, the team traveled to Temple and took the previously undefeated Owls into double overtime, eventually bringing home a 2-1 victory on a goal by junior forward Lyam MacKinnon.
Both sides came out aggressive from the start of the match. The ‘Cats started off with the first shot that rang off the post, followed by two more missed shots by Temple. The Owls nearly scored in the 13th minute but were called offside, keeping the score 0-0. However, at the 14:39 mark, the ‘Cats let up an early first half point from a free-kick roughly 40 yards from the goal. Falling back on its rigid defense, Villanova shut down the Owls quickly after, not allowing another shot on goal for the remainder of the game.
In the 55th minute, freshman Balthi Saunders tied up the game with a well-placed shot. Junior midfielder Gray Ricca is credited with the assist. This is not new for Saunders. The freshman forward from Brooklyn, New York has now scored twice in his past two games for Villanova. In the Temple game alone, Saunders had four shots on goal and played a total of 92 minutes. He shows incredible promise for his future with the ‘Cats and is, as head coach Tom Carlin puts it, is a “goal scoring machine.”
In the 58th minute, the Owls came out fighting with a tackle in the box that led to a red card. Temple was forced to play a man down for the rest of the match. This was not the only example of aggression in the matchup. Ten cards were issued in this match — six called on Villanova and four called on Temple.
The ‘Cats were close to ending the game before overtime with 10 seconds left in the second half. Senior Dylan Middlebrook took a shot that hit off the crossbar and bounced right back to the Temple goalkeeper. While the shot did not go in, this effort by Middlebrook carried Villanova into overtime with momentum.
In the first overtime period, both sides locked down on defense. Neither the ‘Cats nor the Owls were able to fire off a single shot, bringing the match into the second overtime period. In the 106th minute, the Owls were called for a foul in the box, allowing Villanova to take a penalty kick. MacKinnon used the pressure of the situation to his advantage, lined up the shot and converted a penalty kick to win the game. MacKinnon played 101 minutes, his season high. This was his third goal of the season — the first being scored in August against Hartford and the second in the ‘Cats’ previous game against Yale.
This win for the Wildcats brings their record up to 4-1, including a two-game win streak. The team hopes to carry the momentum from this win into Big East play, starting with a visit to Milwaukee to face Marquette on Sept. 18.