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Villanova makes history with first NCAA Tournament win over Vermont

Lyam MacKinnon converted a penalty in the first half and the defense did the rest in a 1-0 win in Burlington, Vermont

Lyam MacKinnon
Matt Ralph

BURLINGTON, VT — Lyam MacKinnon converted a penalty kick in the 28th minute for Villanova’s first-ever NCAA Tournament goal and senior goalkeeper Carson Williams and the back line did the rest to weather a barrage of shots from the hosts in securing the program’s first tournament in history Thursday night.

One of Villanova’s few chances of the night came in the 28th minute after Seidu Shamsudeen was taken down in the box moments after subbing into the game. Shamsudeen’s high pressure started the play by forcing a turnover picked up by Jorge Garcia and he was taken down from behind on the return pass in the box.

MacKinnon, the team’s leading scorer, calmly stepped up and chipped a PK to the right side of the net that froze the Vermont goalkeeper. Playing with the 1-0 lead, the Wildcats were content to sit in for much of the rest of the way on a chilly and rainy night in Burlington.

Vermont playmaker Nacho Lerech grew more dangerous as the game wore on, but Williams answered the call on the five saves he had to make and center back Jack Bonas was particularly dependable under pressure with a few last ditch tackles and clearances. Lerech alone had 13 shots on goal for the game and two on target. As a team, Vermont outshot Villanova 30-9 overall and 5-2 with shots on goal.

The 1-0 win for the Wildcats was their sixth of the season and their ninth shutout.

The win was historic and monumental not only for Villanova but also for the Philly Soccer Six. It marked the first win for a men’s Soccer Six program since Penn beat Bucknell 1-0 in a first round match in 2010.

It was also the first appearance in the tournament for a Soccer Six school since Villanova lost 2-0 to Akron in the opening round in 2016.

Up next, Villanova head to South Bend to take on fourth-seeded Notre Dame at 5 p.m. on Sunday.