Villanova men’s soccer lost its midweek Big East game to DePaul in double-overtime, 3-2, but was able to stop a four-game losing skid with a 2-0 victory over Northwestern on Sunday evening.
Wednesday’s matchup against DePaul at Higgins Soccer Complex got off to a bad start for the ‘Cats, as they gave up a goal within the first five minutes of play to Blue Demon senior forward Jack Richards. However, it wasn’t much longer until the Wildcats were able to respond, as in the 11th minute, freshman forward Balthi Saunders got a ball in from his striking partner junior forward Lyam MacKinnon. Saunders took a left-footed shot that flew out of the reach of Blue Demons freshman keeper Ghandi Cruz for his fourth goal of the season, evening the score at one.
Less than a minute after Saunders’ goal, the Blue Demons were awarded a penalty after a foul in the 18-yard box. Senior midfielder Jake Fuderer stepped up to take the kick and slotted the ball home to give the Blue Demons back the lead.
The situation calmed down through the end of the half. It wasn’t until the 78th minute that the Wildcats were able to find their answer in the form of a diving header by junior midfielder Anthony Dragisics, once again off a feed from MacKinnon, giving him his second assist of the game. Dragisics’ effort to get to the low ball was rewarded in the form of evening the score at two all.
Things remained level through the end of regulation. The two squads were able to create some serious chances through the first period of overtime, but it was ultimately the second additional period that would contain the game’s finish, as sophomore midfielder Omar Ramadan tucked away a rebound that fell to his feet to give the Blue Demons the victory, 3-2.
For Sunday evening’s match, the story went quite differently. This time, it was Villanova that got off to a hot start and never looked back in its last non-conference game of the year.
MacKinnon was awarded a penalty kick in the 22nd minute, which he elected to take himself. He was able to convert, going right down the middle and fooling Northwestern keeper Ethan Bandre and giving Villanova an early 1-0 advantage.
Sophomore forward Luke Pompliano then contributed to ‘Nova’s lead with a first half goal of his own, as he dribbled past a Northwestern defender and drilled a shot into the right side of the goal. It was Pompliano’s first goal of the season.
Villanova played well on the defensive side of the ball, aided by the return of junior defensive midfielder Josh Belluz from a four-game injury absence. ‘Nova’s backline limited the Northwestern attack all game long, with senior keeper Kent Dickey only needing to make four stops to secure his second shutout of the season.
The Wildcats have just two games left in the season, one at Providence on Oct. 30, and a home game against Seton Hall on Nov. 3 to close out the regular season. The Wildcats are currently in fifth place in the conference, one point behind fourth placed Butler, who has a game in hand. The top four seeds make the Big East Championship.