March 8, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Five goals in a span of six minutes decided the game as the Villanova Wildcats fell in a heartbreaker, 12-11, on Saturday night at Villanova Stadium against 14th-ranked Penn. The Wildcats held an 11-7 advantage with 12:49 remaining in the contest but couldn't hold off the Quaker attack as Penn rallied from behind for the victory.
Tonight's contest marked the fourth time in five years this fierce rivalry has been decided by one goal. With the win, Penn improves to 17-8 in the series history while Villanova falls to 1-3 in the early season. The Quakers are now 3-1 on the year.
Villanova began the contest strong and never gave up the lead until 2:00 remaining in the fourth stanza. A 3-2 advantage in the first quarter increased to a 6-3 lead at intermission after Villanova scores from Johnny Gallaway (Middletown, Md.), Tim Mulrenan (Glen Ridge, N.J.) and Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.).
The Wildcats matched their biggest lead of the game at 7-4 to open the second half with a goal from junior Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa.), but Penn began a comeback rally and notched the next four tallies to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
Villanova pulled away with a run of their own to bridge the third and fourth quarters with scores from Kurtis Naslonski (Randolph, N.J.), Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.), Gallaway and O'Neil to increase their lead again by a margin of four at 11-7 with 12:49 left to play, but Penn responded with their game-winning rally beginning at the 8:05 mark. The Quakers rallied from behind off the goals from four different players as Pat Berkery, Drew Belinsky, Chris Hupfeldt and Joe McCallion notched tallies for Penn. McCallion tallied the game-winner from a Belinsky assist with just two minutes remaining in the match.
After winning the ensuing faceoff and just minutes left in regulation, Villanova called timeout with 1:49 on the clock and had the additional help of an extra-man opportunity but couldn't find the equalizer to send the contest into overtime. Shots by Austin Frederick (Baltimore, Md.) and Gartner sailed wide as Jack Curran (Fair Haven, N.J.) forced Penn goalkeeper Brian Feeney to make a save in the closing seconds.
O'Neil led the way for the Wildcats with four points off of two goals and two assists while Gallaway and Mulrenan each recorded their first hat tricks of their careers with three goals apiece. Senior LSM John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) led the defensive effort with eight ground balls and three caused turnovers while faceoff specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) collected nine ground balls off a season-best 18-of-27 at X (.666) for the night. Freshman goalkeeper Dan Willis (Moorestown, N.J.) recorded 10 stops in the loss.
Villanova will return to action against another nationally-ranked opponent when they face No. 1 Maryland in College Park, Md. on Friday, March 14th. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.