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Villanova, Drexel open seasons with pair of victories

Drexel is 2-0 for the first time since 2010; Villanova lost both of their first two games in 2017 and 2016

Matt Ralph

Villanova and Drexel both won games in overtime on Monday to improve to 2-0-0 to start the season.

After two straight seasons where they started out with a pair of losses, the Wildcats improved to 2-0 despite twice blowing one-goal leads against William & Mary at home Monday afternoon.

Zach Zandi opened the scoring with his second of the season and then delivered assists on Yusuf Cueceoglu’s two goals. The duo thought they had gotten a winner when they connected with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, but Ryder Bell’s second of the game with 44 seconds left sent it to overtime.

That’s when it was Zandi again setting up his former roommate Cueceoglu for the golden goal in the 96th minute.

“We gave the lead up twice but I told the guys, we’re just becoming stronger here,” head coach Tom Carlin said after Monday’s overtime win. “We can’t lose our composure and let it impact how we approach this overtime. They responded and that’s what this group is doing, responding right now.”

Zandi, the senior captain from West Chester who came up through Penn Fusion Academy and spent two years with the Philadelphia Union Academy, scored the game-winning goal with two minutes left in Friday night’s opener to defeat Delaware.

“Getting those two wins to start the season, that’s awesome,” Zandi said. “It’s not easy to do in college soccer to win playing on a Friday, playing on a Monday; it’s a tough turnaround so it’s an important 2-0 start to the season especially after last year not finishing where we wanted to.”

Drexel came from a goal down on the road at Lehigh to send their game to overtime, where they got the golden goal three minutes in from Griffin Malas. It’s the first time the Dragons have started the season with a pair of wins since 2010.

After a scoreless first half, Lehigh got on the board when Mark Forrest headed a ball across the box to Trevor Koski for the finish. Facing their first deficit of the season, the Dragons turned up the pressure and found the equalizer in the 71st minute when Chris Carroll made a run into the box and set up Mathias Ebbesen for the goal.

The winner came off a corner kick following a chance for Kwesi Allen that was deflected over the crossbar by Lehigh goalkeeper Will Smith (Devon, Pa.). Adam Nork (Philadelphia, Pa.) connected with Mallas in the box and the graduate transfer from University of the Icarnate Word headed it home.

It was Mallas’s second of the season after opening the team’s scoring account in the sixth minute against Binghamton on Friday. Allen, a transfer from Iowa Western from Trinidad & Tobago, added goals in the 9th and 11th minutes to make it 3-0 Dragons, but the game wouldn’t even reach the 20-minute mark before Binghamton had put two goals of their own on the board.

Incredibly, both teams played scoreless soccer the rest of the way. Allen was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week for his performance in his Drexel debut, which helped an offense that has scored just 15 goals in the last two seasons to a bright start.

Other Local College Action

-The Brian Rowland era started with a tough 1-0 loss at his alma mater UMBC on Friday night. Freshman Jackson Becher (Hummelstown, Pa.) scored the game’s only goal in the 79th minute.

The Owls lineup featured seven new players with only Nick Sarver, Zach Brown, captain Hermann Doerner and Belal Mohamed returning from last year’s squad. The back five was was all newcomers.

“I think we had a great first half where we created many scoring opportunities,” Rowland was quoted stating about the match. “We did what we wanted to do and moved the ball well, but got off track in the second half. Anytime you do not take chances, a team can always find a way to sneak a good goal in.”

-Saint Joseph’s fell in their season opener 2-0 at William & Mary. The Hawks defense conceded just 51 seconds into the match and again in the 12th minute.

Rutgers transfer Mike Fornaro and Virginia transfer Leon Maric (Gilbertsville, Pa.) along with freshman goalkeeper Joseph Boehm made their St. Joe’s debuts in the starting XI while Reading United forward Frantz Pierrot and fellow freshmen Garrett Lyons and Johnny Cunningham made their debuts off the bench.

Locals Elsewhere

Jackson Becher assisted on the game-winner in UMBC’s 3-2 win over Rutgers on Monday.

Sam Brown (Media, Pa.) had an assist in Loyola Maryland’s 3-0 win over Rutgers.

Kalil ElMedkhar (Middletown, Del.) scored the lone goal in Kentucky’s 1-0 win over DePaul.

Patrick Berneski (Warrington, Pa.) scored in Notre Dame’s 1-1 draw with Saint Louis.

Hans Kroschwitz (Piperville, Pa.) delivered the assist on the game-winning goal in Old Dominion’s 1-0 win over Radford.

Nyk Sessock (Philadelphia, Pa.) had an assist in Pitt’s 6-1 win over Delaware. Rob Campbell (Wallingford, Pa.) scored for the Blue Hens in the game.

Jeremy Rafanello (Delran, N.J.) scored his first career goal in Penn State’s 2-1 loss to UCF.

Seth Kuhn (Wyomissing, Pa.) had assists in his first two college games for Duke, a 3-1 win over FIU and a 3-2 win overtime win over Vermont.

Tanner Shane (Macungie, Pa.) had an assist in William & Mary’s loss to Villanova.

This Week

La Salle opens their season tonight at home against Howard at 7 p.m. while St. Joe’s visits Saint Peter’s at 7 p.m.

Villanova is back at home Friday against Loyola at 4 p.m., Temple visits VCU for a 7 p.m. contest Drexel is at George Mason and Penn opens their season at home against Monmouth at 8 p.m.

La Salle visits Iona for a 3 p.m. game on Saturday and Saint Joseph’s hosts Quinnipiac at 7 p.m.

Temple will visit Old Dominion on Sunday and Penn hosts Drexel on Monday. Villanova also has an ACC date with Clemson on Monday night.