Three hundred forty-two minutes of game action. Ten days. Three whole games.
That’s how long the men’s soccer team’s scoring drought lasted.
After having scored only one goal in their first four matches this season, and being shutout in the last three, the Owls (1-4) ended their scoreless streak on Sunday as they notched their first win of the season against rival Villanova. Senior Tony Donatelli’s late penalty kick provided the difference in a 2-1 win.
Freshman Ben Marucci scored his first collegiate goal to open up the scoring in the 47th minute. After a brief scrum in front of the net, Marucci gave his shot just enough force to trickle it over the goal line, past Wildcats goalkeeper Jason Friel.
The Owls’ defense throughout the match was solid, and it appeared that Marucci’s goal would be enough. However, the Wildcats’ Charlie Rowan blasted a shot past Owls goalkeeper Bryant Hosler in the 89th minute, tying the match at 1-1.
The Owls came right back with a great scoring chance, as junior forward David Suah broke in alone on goal. Friel challenged the play, and tripped up the hard-charging Suah. Much to the Wildcats dismay, the referees apparently thought the goalkeeper was a little too aggressive, and awarded the Owls with a penalty kick with only 45 seconds remaining.
Owls co-captain Tony Donatelli attempted the kick, and made good on his team’s opportunity. As Friel dove right, Donatelli’s shot went left, easily tickling the twine. The goals were separated by only 34 seconds.
“It was unfortunate to give a goal up with a minute left, but we showed a lot of character by coming back,” Donatelli said.
The Owls played the remaining 8 and a half minutes of the second half down a man after defender Joe Brocker picked up his second yellow card of the match, resulting in an automatic ejection.
Coach Dave MacWilliams was not pleased with some of the calls he claimed were made and missed by the referees. Three yellow cards were issued to the Owls, mostly on what MacWilliams said were retaliatory plays.
“I thought calls were missed initially, and that’s what causes the reaction,” MacWilliams said. “A lot of first-time calls were missed, and that causes yellow cards and reactions like that.”
The players seemed most disgusted with the officiating when Donatelli was tackled in the 15th minute. After staying down on the field for a while, he stayed in the game but was limping. The injury was to his knee, but the Owls’ senior said it is only a bruise.
While no penalty was awarded on that play, the Owls eventually received their game-winning penalty kick, only much later in the match.
The win earned the Owls a split in the Penn Soccer Classic, a four-team tournament that also included the host Penn Quakers and Lehigh.
The Owls were blown out by Lehigh, 6-0, in the opening game Friday.
“On Friday, we were undisciplined and we quit, and that’s not a characteristic I want to see in my team,” MacWilliams said. “[Lehigh] scored a couple goals and we stopped competing.”
Brocker said that after the loss Friday, the Owls “switched a few things around and put some people in different places” defensively on Sunday. The adjustments seemed to work, as the Owls had the bulk of the scoring chances and limited the Wildcats’ opportunities throughout the match.
“Today’s win was a complete team effort,” said Marucci, who ended the team’s scoreless drought. “We have a mixture of older and younger guys, and our subs are just as good as anybody on the field.”
The Owls’ next match is Wednesday at Ambler Field. They face Drexel at 4 p.m.
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.