Villanova got to experience Friday night soccer in front of their home crowd at Talen Energy Stadium last night, but goals in each half were enough to give the Georgetown Hoyas faithful, which included two current Philadelphia Union players, reason to celebrate a 2-0 victory.
“We just got out to a slow start,” Villanova head coach Tom Carlin said after the game. “We talked all week about being on our front foot but I thought we were on our back foot for much of the first half. That’s a credit to Georgetownn; they really stepped into us in the first half.
Crisp passing from Ethan Lochner and Derek Dodson set up Kyle Zajec in the box for a rocketed shot that beat Wildcats goalkeeper Will Steiner in the 31st minute.
The goal was a wake-up call to a Wildcats team with substitute Theo Quartey providing a spark that nearly led to an equalizer before halftime. Hoyas goalkeeper JT Marcincowski denied the freshman’s headed attempt on goal in the 35th minute and Zach Zandi just missed wide the first of two near goals on the evening with a minute left in halftime.
Zandi’s second close call came during a positive run of play for Nova to start the second half on a free kick from a dangerous position. The junior Philadelphia Union Academy grad from West Chester’s technique was there on the kick, but the ball caught the far post and rolled harmlessly away. It was one of 15 shots on the night for the Wildcats to the Hoyas 12.
Marcincowski, who was a backup on the United States U20 World Cup team, made five saves on the night while Steiner had four.
Georgetown, which improved to 9-2-1 overall and 4-1-0 in conference, put the game out of reach on a counter attack goal from Zach Knudson in the 79th minute, who got behind the defense for the finish after gathering a searching ball from Declan McCabe. Villanova fell to 6-7-0 overall and 2-3-0 in the Big East.
“Georgetown won more second balls, played in our half, played over our press and found ways to find guys in between the pockets,” said Villanova senior captain Andreas Bartosinski. “I think we had a good push at the end of the first half and then for the whole second half as well.”
The announced attendance for the game was 1,274. Among the Georgetown faithful were Philadelphia Union defenders Keegan Rosenberry and Joshua Yaro, who both played with the Hoyas at the stadium in the Big East Tournament in November 2014. Georgetown senior Christopher Lema, who started on Friday night, was the lone Hoya who also played in that game, a 1-0 loss to Xavier.
“It’s a fantastic environment. You get a good crowd and the field is in good shape,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese said. “I think the guys had a great time playing in it. It’s a special occasion every time you play Villanova.”
For Hoyas left back Sean O’Hearn, playing at Talen Energy Stadium was a surreal experience. The Mountville native, who played in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with PA Classics, was at the stadium opener in June 2010.
“Playing here is amazing,” O’Hearn said. “I thought we played well and it’s nice to stay on top of the Big East.”
Villanova visits Penn on Tuesday evening in the first of a three-game road trip that includes visits to Big East rivals Butler on October 21 and St. John’s on October 25. They return home for one final scheduled home game against Providence on October 28.