April 12, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Wildcats notched seven unanswered goals in a span of 7:08 in the second quarter and rode an explosive first half to victory as Villanova claimed a 15-11 win over Rutgers on Saturday night in Piscataway, N.J.
With the win, Villanova improves to 5-6 overall and 3-1 in the BIG EAST and positions themselves for a prime spot in the conference championship set to take place May 1st and 3rd at Villanova Stadium with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Rutgers falls to 7-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference with the defeat.
A nine-goal differential at halftime favoring the Wildcats marked the biggest goal margin for Villanova this season. Additionally, the win marked the sixth consecutive for the Wildcats over Rutgers dating back to 2009 and puts the all-time series at 6-6 between the two schools.
Freshman Devin McNamara (Lutherville, Md.) and sophomore Jack Curran (Fair Haven, N.J.) led Villanova with five points each and combined for seven goals and three assists on the night. Each set career records for points, goals and assists during the game.
Villanova came out strong in the first quarter and registered the first four goals of the contest from Curran, McNamara, John LoCascio (West Essex, N.J.) and Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa.) and took a 4-0 lead with 3:03 remaining on the clock. The Scarlet Knights broke the Wildcat scoring streak to end the first stanza at the 2:33 mark on a score from Rich Rambo to make it 4-1 in favor of Villanova at the end of the quarter.
Following back and forth action to open the second stanza, the Wildcats posted seven unanswered scores beginning at the 8:21 mark to 1:13 left to play in the half to extend their lead at 12-3 heading into intermission. Villanova saw points from Austin Frederick (Baltimore, Md.), Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.), Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.), Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.), McNamara, Gartner and LoCascio during that span and the nine-goal differential marked the biggest lead for Villanova over an opponent in 2014.
Coming out of the locker rooms at halftime, the Scarlet Knights found renewed energy and outscored Villanova by an 8-3 margin in the second half of play, including a 4-1 run in the third quarter fueled by Scott and Matthew Klimchak, Connor Murphy and Rambo. Villanova's lone score of the period came at the 13:06 mark from Curran as Villanova held a 13-7 advantage over the hosts heading into the final 15 minutes of action.
McNamara would break a Rutgers three-goal scoring streak to start the final quarter before the Scarlet Knights rattled off another three goals from Chris Groel, Nick DePaolera and Rambo to get within four at 14-10 with 11:34 left to play. Villanova would close out the contest when Curran assisted junior Christian Bennardo (Cutchogue, N.Y.) for the score to extend the lead at 15-10. RU's Scott Bieda tallied a late goal with 33 seconds left to play to end the game at 15-11 in favor of the visitors.
Despite Rutgers holding the 17-29 advantage in faceoff's for the night, Villanova outshot their opponents by a 39-35 margin and had just 10 turnovers to Rutgers' 14. Defensively, freshman goalkeeper Dan Willis (Moorestown, N.J.) notched eight saves in the victory while Curran and senior Jimmy Wyatt (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) led the team with four ground balls each. Rutgers Kris Alleyne and Jake Andersen combined for 11 saves on the evening in the loss.
Villanova will return to action a week from today when they travel to Jamaica, N.Y. to face St. John's. Game time is slated for 1 p.m.