March 4, 2007
Denver, Colo. - After falling short in the first game of the Face-Off Classic on Saturday, Villanova (2-2) bounced back with a 9-8 win over Air Force (1-2) in Denver, Colo. The Wildcats went 1-1 overall for the weekend and brought three All-Tournament Team honors back to the Main Line. Seniors Eric Heidenberger and Safi Najdawi, along with sophomore goalie Andrew DiLoreto, gained all-tournament accolades for their efforts in the games. Heidenberger finished the weekend with five goals, while Najdawi led the defense with DiLoreto, who closed out the tournament with a total of 26 saves.
Although Air Force struck first with two goals in the initial five minutes of the game, Villanova was able to string together three separate runs over the course of the game to seal the victory for the Wildcats. Denver native Eric Webber notched Villanova's first goal of the game, followed by classmate Eric Heidenberger netting his fifth goal of the tournament about two minutes later making the score even at two goals a piece going into the second period.
Once again, the Falcons were in control as they cruised to a 4-2 lead on goals by Justin Kuchta and Will Meister. Villanova continued to bombard Air Force goalie Daniel Bellissimo as they tallied 14 shots in the second period alone. It wasn't until the around the five minute mark that Villanova's Timmy Campbell was able to convert a pass from junior Chris MacDonald to cut the goal margin back to one. Freshman Paul Webber also navigated his way past the Falcon defense to register his first collegiate goal at the 0:28 mark to even the score to 4-4 at the half.
Junior midfielder Tim Atkins, who ended the game with a hat trick, extended Villanova's hot streak and collected his first goal of the game well into the third period giving the Wildcats a three unanswered goal series. However, Will Meister and Griffin Nevitt scored back-to-back goals for Air Force, halting Villanova's offense until Atkins struck again five minutes into the fourth period making the score even at six.
Air Force was able to sneak in one more goal at the 8:00 mark before Atkins completed his hat trick off a pass from MacDonald. Atkins third and final goal of the game ignited another barrage of scoring for Villanova. Paul Webber and Andy German sealed the victory for the Wildcats as they teamed up with Atkins to notch three goals in two minutes. Air Force's Griffin Nevitt, who also finished with a hat trick of his own, closed out the scoring with a last effort goal at the 0:24 mark making the final score 9-8 in favor of Villanova.
The Wildcats held a commanding lead in all categories across the field, including shots, groundballs, face-offs, and saves. The Wildcats out shot the Falcons in three of four periods putting them on top with 44 to Air Force's 30. With the efforts of Chris Colliniates, Nova scooped up 17 more groundballs and won 15 of 21 face-offs. Wildcat goalie Andrew DiLoreto, an All-Tournament Team selection, logged all 60 minutes and posted 14 saves for the day.
The Wildcats travel back to the Main Line to face the Hawks of Saint Joseph's on Tuesday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. in the Villanova Stadium.