April 14, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Led by a pair of goals from senior C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.), No. 12 Villanova (8-4, 4-0) scored four unanswered goals to start the fourth quarter and rallied past St. John's (6-5, 2-3) for a 10-8 victory at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, Villanova became the first team to clinch a berth into the inaugural BIG EAST Championship, hosted by Villanova University Mary 3rd and 5th at Villanova Stadium.
Small tied the game just over two minutes into the decisive final period and senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) gave the Wildcats the lead for good with 10:58 remaining in a game which featured six tied scores and five lead changes.
Senior Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md.) scored three of his career-high four goals in the first half and finished with a career-high tying five points on the day. Small and senior Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.) added two goals apiece and Cunningham led the team with two assists.
The Red Storm scored a pair of goals five minutes apart midway through the third quarter to take a 7-6 lead, but were held scoreless until the final minute of the game as Villanova made its comeback.
In a back and forth battle, the sides were only separated by more than two goals once in the entire contest. The biggest lead of the game occurred when Vigilante scored with four minutes remaining to give VU a 10-7 lead.
Sophomore Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) opened the scoring with 11:35 left in the first quarter and Villanova led 3-2 after the first 15 minutes of play. In the second quarter, the Wildcats received goals from Bell and Vigilante and the score was deadlocked at 5-5 as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
St. John's was led by the three-goal performance of Kevin Cernuto while Keiran McArdle added two goals and one assist. Jordan Rothman won 12-of-22 face-offs on the day and paced the Red Storm with a game-high seven ground balls.
Defensively, senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) posted eight saves while Jeff Lowman made 13 stops in the defeat for St. John's. Three of Gutierrez's eight saves came in the fourth quarter, including two stops after Villanova had taken the lead.
The Wildcats will be back in action a week from today when they host No. 6 Notre Dame at 5:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPNU. The night will also serve as Senior Night to honor the 10 graduating upperclassmen in their last regular season home game of the year.
NOTES: Villanova had a season-high 42 shots in today's game. It was the most shots in a game for the Wildcats since they had 43 against Lehigh on April 20th, 2010... Since the start of the 2009 season, Villanova has a record of 22-4 (.846) in home games. Head Coach Mike Corrado has a record of 28-12 (.700) in home games during his career... Villanova won fewer face-offs than its opponent for only the third time in 12 games this season. The other two games were against Lehigh and Delaware. Since then, the Wildcats have won more face-offs in seven consecutive games.