Philadelphia, Pa. The University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team battled to a 2-0 victory over Villanova Friday on the first day of the Penn Soccer Classic at Rhodes Field.
Sophomore Keith Vereb scored what would hold up as the game-winning goal with 10 seconds left in the first half. The goal came as a result of freshman Josh Baugh redirecting senior Erik Violante’s free kick to Vereb’s feet in front of net.
Both teams turned on the offense in the second half, with the Quakers (2-0) taking nine shots on goal and the Wildcats (1-2) four. Neither team was able to score, however, until freshman Omid Shokoufandeh was taken down inside the box and Violante converted the penalty opportunity in the 84th minute.
“That was a very difficult game,” said Head Coach Rudy Fuller. “It was a big test for us, in many different aspects.”
Junior goalkeeper Dan Cepero made a single save to earn his second straight shutout to start the season. Sophomore Jason Friel made four saves in the losing effort.
The very physical contest saw 41 combined fouls, four yellow cards and one red card. Penn dominated shots, 13-5, and held a 4-2 advantage on corner kicks.
“It’s a huge rivalry,” Fuller said. “There’s a lot of intensity in a Penn-Villanova game, in any sport.”
The win also gives Penn the top spot in the Philadelphia Soccer Seven standings. The Quakers are 2-0 in intra-city games this season, having also defeated Temple on Sept. 6.
In the first game of the afternoon’s doubleheader, Lehigh beat Temple 6-0 behind a hat trick by senior Jim Stevens. The Owls will play Villanova at noon on Sunday, while Penn will take on the Mountain Hawks at 2:30 p.m.
-Written by Tim Flynn, athletic communications assistant