The Seton Hall men’s soccer team opened up a four-game home stand with a 2-1 victory against Villanova on a chilly Wednesday night.
The Pirates, who came into the match with a record of 2-2-1 at Owen T. Carroll Field, took an early lead in the 10th minute of the opening half on a goal by junior midfielder Bolu Akinyode.
Freshman Sam Geiler, junior Kai Greene and senior Max Garcia all came just inches away from finding the net and breaking the game open.
“It was a very important win for us after our 0-2 start [in the conference],” Seton Hall coach Gerson Echeverry said. “Hopefully this will catapult us into a winning streak going forward.”
With under a minute to go in the first half, freshman keeper Julian Spindler grabbed Nova’s potential equalizer and helped pre- serve SHU’s lead and momentum after the first 45 minutes of play. The Pirates went into the locker room with a one-goal lead after a stout defense and aggressive offensive first half of play.
Seton Hall’s gritty first half performance was exactly what the team needed to get back on track after a lopsided loss to Georgetown over the weekend.
The second half saw both teams locked in a defensive struggle for many of the opening minutes, as each side traded tackles near mid-field.
Greene nearly netted the Pirates’ second goal in the 56th minute, but Villanova keeper Andrew Weakly made a diving grab and kept his team within one strike of tying the match.
Senior forward George Velasquez then took the Pirates the length of the field in the 60th minute, but the Wildcat defense held strong.
Villanova evened the score in the 67th minute with a looping goal from junior Colton Bryant.
Spindler made two enormous back-to-back saves with just over seven minutes left in regulation, setting up a goal by Garcia on an arching pass from Geiler on the other end of the field.
“It was a great goal, Max has come so close in the next few games,” Echeverry said. “It was timely and he came up big for us.”
The victory marks Seton Hall’s first in conference play in the 2013 season.
The Pirates will host Butler on Saturday Oct. 12 at 1 p.m.
Tom Duffy can be reached at email@example.com.