NYU coach Kim Wyant and her University of Chicago counterpart, Julianne Sitch, talk after the match. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

BRONX, N.Y. — Kim Wyant said she was going to enjoy the moment.

After all, how many times are there two women on opposite benches coaching against one another at a men’s college soccer team.

Friday night’s encounter at Gaelic Park was believed to be the first time in NCAA history that happened.

Wyant directed New York University while Julianne Sitch guided the University of Chicago in a University Athletic Association match.

“I came out here to just really to try to enjoy the moment and just see okay, the game is not within my control right now because once you give it over to the players, it’s to the players,” she said.

In the 30th minute, Wyant was forced to take the game under her control. Forward Nathan Bennett was red carded for fouling Chicago goalkeeper Will Boyes, leaving the Violets with 10 men against the top-ranked and undefeated and untied Chicago side for the final hour.

Wyant went from enjoying the historic value of the match back into a coach who had to put out a fire.

“Once we went into 10 players I went into like coaching mode,” she said with a laugh. “I went just an automatic solve the problem help my team. I was just totally consumed with that the whole match.”

Who could have blamed her?

The NYU head coach devised a game plan, and nearly pulled off a victory despite playing at a disadvantage over the last half hour. NYU (7-4-3, 2-1-2) pulled off a stunning result – a scoreless draw with Chicago (14-0-1, 4-0-1).

Then Wyant was able to enjoy the night again.

Asked if she felt that the tie felt more like a victory given what the obstacles the Violets were forced to overcome, Wyant replied, “Absolutely.”

Wyant felt Bennett should not have been given his marching orders by referee Pat Violette.

“To have a player sent off, a very harsh call because he was going for the ball,” she added. “It wasn’t like he was trying to stud the kid on purpose.

“To have a kid sent off and to have your team just like weather that storm for 20 minutes to get us to halftime. My first thought was: ‘Okay, let’s just let’s get to halftime. Then we can talk a little bit more and organized a little bit more.’ ”

Before she met with the team in the locker room, Wyant and her staff went over some strategy at the bench.

“We gave him the game plan at halftime and they worked to perfections,” she said. “We caught them on a couple of counters. We hit the post. We had good chances so I can’t be happier.”

The Violets were so close in turning one point for the draw into three for the win.

Arkan Tahsildaroglu caused the most headaches for Chicago as he unleashed several attempts that just went wide left and right. His closest call came in the 81st when when he drilled a shot off the left post.

“Archon is super dangerous,” Wyant said. “He’s just a pure goal scorer. Coach’s dream when it comes to coaching him on the field and what he can do on the field. He really will rise to this occasion like, ‘Okay coach, I just put the team on my back and I’ll take care of it’ was pretty much what he told me at halftime. We tried to feed him the ball as much as possible.”

It almost worked.

Regardless of the result, it still was a momentous moment for women’s in soccer, in particular, and sports in general to have two women direct a pair of male teams in a game.

“I think it’s enormously important that this happens. I think we can write some more history,” said Wyant who has made some history herself before as the first goalkeeper on the U.S. women’s national team and when she was hired to coach the NYU men in 2015.

“I think we can open up some more doors for other women. I think we can make administrators who are in these decisions to hire people, we can help them to stop and think.”

Wyant also was ecstatic that her family attended the match – spouse, former St. John’s University standout Cristin Burtis and their two daughters. Several former Long Island Lady Riders also watched the contest, including Cindy Spera, the managing director of the National Premier Soccer League, Gina Tucker and Gina Prinzevalli, among others.

“I mean, I’m really overwhelmed with the amount of support that my friends and family came out,” Wyant said. “I’m seeing people that I haven’t seen in a long time. That means a lot to me.

“I’m so happy for my players to to come out and do what they did. They put in so much time. We work really hard in practice. They’re not on scholarship, they’re just dedicating their time and for them to also get this result.”

NYU won’t have much time to savor the accomplishment. The team meets Washington University of St. Louis the 2021 UAA champion, here on Sunday at 11 a.m.

“What I told them in the locker room is that we’ve got to enjoy this tonight and we have to carry this momentum into Sunday,” Wyant said. “They [Washington] are a good team, a very good team so it will not be an easy game. So, we absolutely have to carry this confidence and our ability to play with the ball and move for each other on the field. … It will work very well for us.”