The Hoyas may be in serious danger of catching a cold after getting soaked in both of the weekend’s rainy Big East away games. But the team’s NyQuil-induced slumber will undoubtedly be peaceful, after having defeated Rutgers 2-1 in overtime and held Villanova 0-0.

“We had an idea it was going to be wet,” Head Coach Brian Wiese said of the playing conditions this weekend, “but no, we didn’t think that we were going to get two games like that, with field conditions and weather playing such a big part in how we had to approach the game.”

The Hoyas’ (7-2-1, 2-2-1 Big East) match on Friday against the Scarlet Knights (4-3-2, 1-2-1) proved to be just as dramatic as the setting; it was the first nighttime match of the season, played at the floodlit Yurcak Field while the rain poured down mercilessly. The Hoyas finally emerged victorious in the fourth minute of overtime when junior defender and co-captain Mark Zeman fed a long cross to senior forward Peter Grasso, who leaped in the air from the middle of the box and headed the ball into the back of the net to give the Blue and Gray the win.

“We had to change a lot of what we like to do, and we were definitely out of our comfort zone in our style of playing,” Wiese said. “I was very proud of how the team was able to get two results out of games that we aren’t really built for. We aren’t really built for a mud game but we did really well to get a win and a tie.”

The Hoyas came out flying at the beginning of the contest and put their mark on the scoreboard just two minutes into play. Zeman was responsible for creating the goal: A well-taken corner kick from the defender found the head of sophomore midfielder Rob Burnett, and Burnett made no mistake in guiding the ball past the flailing gloves of the keeper for the Hoyas’ first of the match and his first of the season.

The score remained 1-0 until halftime, with the Hoyas taking six shots on goal and the Knights taking eight. Freshman redshirt Mark Wilber was instrumental in goal for the Blue and Gray, making four spectacular saves and not letting a single one slip despite the pouring rain.

One did get past Wilber, however, at the start of the second half; a free kick taken by the Knights from 30 yards out bounced off the post, but headed back in past the keeper for the home team’s equalizer.

The Knights, with newfound energy, maintained a relentless attack on the Hoya half of the field, taking 11 shots at goal but not seeing one go in past Wilber, who pushed his save total to nine at the end of the match. The score at the 90-minute mark was 1-1, but Grasso’s overtime effort wrapped up the match for the Hoyas.

“One of the main differences between this year’s team and last year’s team is that going into the overtime, I’ve never seen a group that’s as confident and determined to come out with a win as this group was [on Friday],” Wiese said. “I didn’t need to say very much to the guys; they were absolutely determined to get a win and it took just over three minutes to get it. And what a beautiful goal we got.”

With just one day to recuperate, the Blue and Gray faced off against their second Big East rival of the weekend, the Villanova Wildcats. The match was, however, anticlimactic after the overtime thriller – with the pitch barely holding for 90 minutes under the torrential rain, the game was called to an end by the referees at the end of regulation, both teams recording one point each in the standings after the goalless draw.

The Hoya back four held their line despite the slipperiness of the pitch, and guarded their goal against the combined onslaught of the rain and the Wildcat attack. The home team recorded a total of 10 shots in the first half, but the Hoya attack came into its own near the end of the period and finished with seven attempts of their own.

At the resumption of play in the second half, both teams battled for possession but were unable to convert any chances – sophomore goalkeeper Matt Brutto thwarted the Wildcats seven times to keep the Hoyas at par with the hosts, while on the other end of the pitch, Nova’s keeper made five saves.

The best chance for the Blue and Gray came in at the dying seconds of play, when sophomore forward Jose Colchao took a long shot from the right side of the field. The Wildcat keeper barely managed to parry the ball away from danger by the tips of his gloves just as the final whistle was blown and the players were called in by the referees.

“It’s a little frustrating because in the last 10 minutes of the game I thought we had a slew of chances we were putting on the goal and we were looking very likely [to be] the winner,” Wiese said. “We did play 90 minutes, so at the end of the day, it’s a full soccer match. . It was the right decision to be made when you look at it; but neither team really wanted to stop. Both sides were really adamant about playing overtime, but the field was more lake than soccer field at that time.”

The Hoyas’ 7-2-1 record is a turnaround from last year when the Hoyas were 3-7 at the same point in the season. The men will, however, have to work hard to maintain the low numbers in the losses column as they face their next Big East rival on Sunday, when they travel away to take on No. 3 Notre Dame at their home field.

“It’s a team that is in the NCAA tournament every year,” Wiese said. “They’re scoring a lot of goals and not conceding a lot of goals. It’s going to be a real challenge for the guys, but I think the guys are excited, they’re confident about it – certainly a different mentality than when we went there two years ago – and hopefully that comes true in our play. Hopefully we can come out with all guns blazing.”

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