Feb. 25, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) netted the overtime game-winner on a wraparound shot to give the Wildcats a 13-12 overtime victory over Bucknell on Saturday afternoon. In a game that featured seven ties and four lead changes, No. 9 Villanova relied on the strength of upperclassmen experience and junior Jack Rice's (Baltimore, Md.) career-high six goals to propel the Wildcats to the win.
"Our offense played fast, we were picking great, and spinning the ball quick, finding guys on the backside, that's what I think was very effective for us," Rice said.
Sophomore faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) won the final 11 face-offs of the game starting at the 8:18 mark of the third quarter and continuing until overtime. Prior to that point, the Wildcats were just 6-of-18 from the face-off X but eventually finished 17-of-29 for the day.
Villanova trailed 11-10 with just over three minutes left in regulation when the Wildcats scored the game-tying and go-ahead goals just 10 seconds apart from junior Max Hart's (Bethesda, Md.) unassisted tally. Just 10 seconds later, Rice scored on a feed from sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) to give Villanova a 12-11 lead.
In the back-and-forth contest, however, that lead stood for just over a minute before Bucknell tied the game for the third time in eight minutes on a goal by Todd Heritage with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter.
In the first half, Villanova scored four of the first five goals and built a 6-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Four different Wildcats posted scores during that span, including seniors Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md.) Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.) and sophomore Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.), while Rice netted three of his six scores during that run.
Bucknell eventually scored three straight goals to tie the game at 6-6 with 1:11 left before intermission, but a goal from Cunningham with just 26 seconds left sent the Wildcats back to the locker rooms with a 7-6 advantage.
Rice was one of four Wildcats with at least three points for the day, while Cunningham and Vigilante each contributed two goals and one assist. Senior C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) contributed a game and career-high five assists.
Defensively, sophomore Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.) and LoCascio each nabbed five ground balls while Croonquist led the team with eight pick-ups off of his face-off performance. Senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) tallied a career-high 15 saves in the victory, including nine in the first half, to aid in the win. Bucknell's Kyle Feeney notched 16 saves despite recording his third-straight defeat.
No. 9 Villanova returns to action on Tuesday, February 28th when they host Drexel (1-1) at Villanova Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova is 10-of-14 (71.4%) on man-up opportunities through the first two games of the season, including 4-of-5 (80%) in today's win over Bucknell... Villanova's last overtime win came last season and was also at home in a 9-8 decision over Penn on March 12, 2011... The Wildcats are 4-3 (.571) in overtime games since Head Coach Mike Corrado became head coach in 2007... VU has won three of their last four overtime games dating back to 2009.