April 7, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - No. 13 Villanova (7-4, 3-0) got out to a 11-2 lead at halftime and never looked back as the Wildcats handily defeated Rutgers (5-6, 1-3) 14-9 at Yurcak Field on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Villanova remains undefeated in BIG EAST competition as they handed the Scarlet Knights their third consecutive loss in as many years.
Senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) lead the team with four points via two goals and two assists while sophomore John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) posted a game-high seven ground balls and four caused turnovers. Freshman Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa.) and Mike Francia (Wilton, Conn.) posted their first career goals while junior Paul Mita (Berwyn, Pa.) and freshman Ryan DeSimone (Saint James, N.Y.) notched their first career assists in the victory.
Aiding in the victory, the Wildcat defense held the Scarlet Knights scoreless for the entire second quarter and for a total of 17:19 bridging from the end of the first quarter and going into the third.
Villanova got out to a strong start after finding themselves down 1-0 from a turnover off the opening faceoff. Sophomore Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) got the Wildcats on board at the 12:12 mark from a Francia assist to begin the scoring for the day. Villanova would go on to net four consecutive goals from junior Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.), senior Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.), Gartner and Francia to put the Wildcats up 5-1 with 1:48 remaining in the first stanza.
With seven seconds remaining in the quarter, Cunningham began another scoring frenzy along with Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.), Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.), Vigilante and Hart to give Villanova an 11-2 edge going into halftime.
Rutgers would begin their own comeback in the second half, netting six straight goals with 7:30 remaining in the third quarter from Scott Klimchak, Will Mangan and Michael Diehl. The Scarlet Knights gained momentum when Villanova was called for a three minute unreleaseable penalty at the 2:16 mark and went on to close the Villanova lead, 12-9, with 8:16 remaining in the contest. During that span, Rutgers held the Wildcats scoreless for 21:46.
With just over a minute left in regulation, Rice netted his 26th goal of the season off a Cunningham assist to break the scoring drought while senior Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md.) notched the final goal of the game with 23 second remaining to solidify the Villanova victory, 14-9.
Defensively, senior Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) tallied 11 saves in the victory while Rutgers Steven Lusby and Joseph Donnelly combined for eight saves in the defeat. Sophomore Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) claimed 10-of-16 (62%) wins from the face-off X while senior Nolan Vihlen (Germantown, Tenn.) went 5-of-9 (55%) for the day.
Villanova will be back in action a week from today when they host St. John's in Villanova Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.