November 2, 2012
2nd-half deficit too much for Seton Hall men
VILLANOVA, PA. Ė The Seton Hall University menís soccer team was unable to overcome a two-goal second-half deficit and fell at Villanova University, 3-1, in the first round of the 2012 Big East Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
The Pirates were making their first postseason appearance since 2007, but had to wait a day to start the Big East Tournament, as the match was delayed a day because of the after effects of Hurricane Sandy.
Despite the uncertainty heading into the game, Seton Hall dictated much of the run of play, finishing with a 20-16 advantage in shots and a 9-8 edge in attempts on net, but Villanova found enough offense to come away with the tournament win.
Seton Hall had several quality scoring chances in the first half against Villanova, but it was one mistake on defense that led to the only goal of the opening period.
In the 10th minute the Pirates misplayed a pass along the backline, allowing Villanova forward Danny Gonzalez to come away with the ball just outside of the area. He advanced just a few yards before ripping a shot on net that goalkeeper Michael Kuzan (Union, N.J.) managed to get his hands on, but he was unable to make a clean save, and the shot went just over his reach and into the far corner.
While the Wildcats did create their fair number of chances, with Kuzan making four stops in the opening 45 minutes, Seton Hall maintained control for much of the opening period.
The Pirates held a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks, which was indicative of the consistent pressure Seton Hall was able to apply, but the Pirates did not get any good looks off the corners.
Instead it was the play of junior forward Max Garcia (Jersey City, N.J.) and junior midfielder Christian Battistesa (Bound Brook, N.J.) that accounted for a number of Seton Hallís six shots on net.
The best look of the half was in the 33rd minute, on a play that Garcia started down the near side of the field. After maintaining control against the defensive pressure he found junior forward George Velasquez (Union City, N.J.) along the end line, who centered the ball to Battistesa.
Villanova keeper John Fogarty came out to make the save on Battistesaís shot from 12-yards out, and the Wildcats eventually cleared the ball out of the zone to maintain a one goal lead.
The second half saw the Pirates create a number of early scoring chances, but Villanova capitalized on an early scoring opportunity as the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the 51st minute.
Villanovaís second goal came off a set piece from 20 yards after Seton Hall was whistled for a foul. Kyle Soroka took the shot from the left side and sent a low line drive past Kuzan to the far post.
Seton Hall kept coming and finally broke through in the 71st minute as sophomore Konrad Plewa (Maniowy, Poland) hooked up with Garcia to cut the Villanova lead to just one.
Plewa played a ball from midfield through the defense and in to Garcia down the right side of the field. The junior forward fielded the pass cleanly and took just a few dribbles before attempting a low shot that beat Fogarty to the far post. The goal was Garciaís team-leading seventh of the season, and Plewa recorded his team-high fifth assist of the year on the play. Garcia wrapped up the 2012 season as Seton Hallís leading scorer with seven goals and three assists for 17 points.
Seton Hall continued to push for the game-tying goal but that offensive pressure eventually led to a counter attack for Villanova, as the Wildcats netted an insurance goal in the 88th minute to account for the 3-1 final.
Garcia finished the game with seven shots, and three shots on goal, while Velasquez and Battistesa had two shots on goal apiece. Kuzan made five saves and the Pirates finished up with a 7-0 lead in corner kicks.
Seton Hall, which made its 22nd appearance in the tournament, is 14-14-6 all-time in the competition and 6-11-5 in BE tourney openers.