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After beating two USL teams, Villanova hosts Syracuse

Villanova and Syracuse meet at Higgins Soccer Complex on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Jack Gilliam
Matt Ralph

Coming off a disappointing fall season, a pair of results from spring exhibition matches have given Villanova positive momentum heading into a match at home Saturday against Syracuse.

The Wildcats opened their spring schedule at the beginning of the month with a 3-2 win at home over Bethlehem Steel FC. Just last weekend, they traveled to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds and came home with a 1-0 win.

Vince Manzo drew the penalty setting up the lone goal, which Yusuf Cueceoglu scored from the spot. The second-year midfielder from Germany also converted a penalty in the Steel FC match while Manzo and Zach Zandi also scored.

“Our main takeaway is that our team has shown alot of resilience and fight in our two games against the USL opponents,” head coach Tom Carlin said. “Both games were back and forth where either team could have drawn a result. The fact that we came out with two results is proof that last year’s struggles will not define us as a group. We have a lot of work to still do but it’s nice to see that the group has responded to the desire to be a more cohesive unit.”

Saturday’s match will kick off at 1 p.m. at Higgins Soccer Complex. It marks the second time in the past year that the two teams are meeting in an exhibition.

Syracuse won 2-1 at home in a preseason match against the Wildcats last August. The Orange kicked off their spring season back in February with a 1-1 draw to Toronto FC II and lost 2-0 to Bethlehem Steel FC at YSC Sports in late February. Saturday’s match will be the team’s first since returning from a trip to Spain, where they lost 3-0 to Nastic, 3-1 to Girona FC and posted a 2-1 win over Getafe CF.

“Syracuse has been one of the top programs in the country over the past couple of years so it will be nice to be able to get a shot at them at home,” Carlin said. “We expect a well coached, well organized, and oh yeah, an extremely athletic opponent on Saturday.”

It will be the last home match (aside from an alumni game) for the Wildcats until August. They finish their spring schedule with a match at Penn that’s part of the Philly Soccer Six event on April 7 and travel to College Park to play Maryland on April 15.