Men’s soccer faces off Villanova in Big East Championship
The men’s soccer team will make its 22nd all-time appearance in the Big East Championship and its first since 2007, despite losing its final six games.
Earning the No. 5 seed in the Blue Division, the Pirates (6-11, 2-6 Big East) will travel to play Villanova (11-5-2, 3-3-2), the No. 4 seed in the Red Division.
The Hall has fared well against Villanova historically, holding an 18-10 all-time advantage. For the first time since 2002, the teams did not meet this season. The Wildcats have won the previous three matches by a combined score of 11-1.
The teams have only met once in a Big East tournament setting, with the Pirates winning 4-0 in the conference semifinals on its way to winning the 1991 Big East Conference title.
In the Big East Championship, the Pirates hold a 14-13-6 record and have won conference championships in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1991. However, the team has struggled in the opening round with a record of 6-10-5. Their last win in the opening round came in 2000, in a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh.
The Hall has tied three of its last four first-round matches, advancing once on penalty kicks.
During its six-game losing streak, the Pirates have struggled offensively, netting only one goal in a 6-1 loss against Notre Dame at Owen T. Carroll Field.
Head coach Gerson Echeverry, in his first season as coach, has said all season that the team’s offensive struggles are not because the players aren’t good enough to score, but rather it is because the chances aren’t falling.
“It’s not a lack of trying,” Echeverry said before the team’s match against Georgetown. “It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s not because they’re not capable of it, it’s just not happening.”
Before the team’s upset win over No. 19 Monmouth on Sept. 14, Echeverry said the Pirates’ attack was an issue for the team moving forward.
“We need eight, nine or 10 chances before we score one goal, while another teams need one, maybe two chances,” Echeverry said. “And they punish us.”
Echeverry has said numerous times this season that the team needs organization to be successful both offensively and defensively.
“I’d like us to be more organized,” Echeverry said. “I think that too many times when things aren’t going well they have a tendency to become disorganized; they have a tendency to panic, and instead of playing as a team they start to play as individuals.”
Echeverry said that playing as individuals has a major downside for the team.
“We’re not individually that talented to take over a game on your own,” Echeverry said. “We need more of a team effort for us to not only be able to do things on defense but also on the attack.”
The match was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but because of Hurricane Sandy, the match will be played at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.Brennan@student.shu.edu.