After two disappointing seasons, the Villanova men’s soccer team kicked off the 2019 season with a resounding 5-0 win over Delaware in their biggest offensive explosion since their NCAA Tournament season in 2017.
The offensive display was orchestrated by a mix of new and returning players with senior Conor Bradley — playing in a more advanced position — opening the scoring after hitting woodwork earlier in the first half with a toe poke past the keeper in the 29th minute. Freshmen Lyam Mackinnon and Josh Belluz set up the play to record their first career assists.
Bradley, a forward in his days with the Philadelphia Union Academy and The Haverford School, had been mostly used further back in the midfield in his first three seasons but showed his value playing in the front line throughout the day.
“I grew up playing attack, playing striker so it’s good to be back, it feels natural,” Bradley said in a post-game interview on the Villanova broadcast. “I’m just happy out there scoring goals, making runs.”
Mackinnon, a forward from Switzerland, also had himself a day playing off Bradley, junior winger Theo Quartey and substitute Seidu Shamsudeen, who was also making his regular season debut with the Wildcats after missing all of last season with an injury.
Mackinnon was involved in the run up to the second goal after he received a short pass from Shamsudeen just outside the box and sent a short cross on the run to Evan Vare that the senior was able to redirect into the side of the net. The former FC Lausanne U21 player then opened his own goal-scoring account in the 52nd minute when Conor Bradley played him in behind the Blue Hens back line with a first time through ball.
Up 3-0, Nova goalkeeper Carson Williams stepped up with a save on the Blue Hens lone shot on the day to keep the visitors off the board and newcomer Anthony Dragisics tacked on another goal in the 66th minute with a shot that was initially tipped by Delaware goalkeeper Renan Thomazo but ended up bouncing in. Jack Gilliam then made it 5-0 five minutes later when he fired home a short cross from Dragisics.
“To be able to create the kinds of chances, to score and to get the clean sheet was a nice start,” head coach Tom Carlin said after the match. “It’s a good first win.”
The five goals were the most scored by the Wildcats since Sept. 2, 2017 in a 5-2 win over UMBC at the Higgins Soccer Complex and the most in a season opener since netting five in a win at Manhattan on Aug. 24, 2012. The Friday afternoon crowd for the season curtain raiser was listed at 783.
Up next, Nova heads to Williamsburg, Va. on Tuesday to face William & Mary at 7 p.m.
Three other local Division 1 men’s teams opened their season on Friday.
La Salle beat Iona 2-1 at home thanks to a 78th minute winner from Pat McCarthy. Drexel couldn’t get a Chris Donovan goal to hold up in a 2-1 overtime loss at Binghamton and Saint Joseph’s fell at home in front of 751 fans to Saint Peter’s by a 2-1 final despite taking a lead in the 18th minute on a goal from Leon Maric.