Oct. 24, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - With three goals in the game's final 21 minutes, Rutgers posted a 3-2 overtime victory over Villanova on Wednesday night at Yurcak Field. The Wildcats were able to answer the first two with scores of their own but the third resulted in sudden victory for the Scarlet Knights in the game's 99th minute.
The loss drops the Wildcats to 10-5-2 overall, 2-3-2 in the BIG EAST.
Rutgers pushed its record to 7-7-1 overall, 3-4-1 BIG EAST.
"Give Rutgers a lot of credit," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "They played with a great sense of urgency from start to finish tonight. We had good moments where we showed our resolve but we also had a couple of defensive miscues that cost us. We couldn't put it together with the kind of consistency we needed to get the result."
Scoring opportunities were infrequent in the first half as the two squads combined for just seven total shots, three by the Wildcats. Villanova goalkeeper John Fogarty saved the only two shots on goal in the period to keep things scoreless after intermission.
"I thought we had two quality scoring chances in the first half but we weren't able to get one," stated Carlin.
At the conclusion of the halftime break, however, it was Rutgers that began to apply the pressure. Fogarty was forced to make four saves over the first 30 minutes of the period to keep the game knotted at zero through 75 minutes.
"The game opened up in the second half," noted Carlin.
The tenor of the contest changed quickly when the Scarlet Knights broke through for the night's first score at 76:43. Mitchell Taintor headed a cross from Mael Corboz into the net to give Rutgers the advantage.
Villanova, seeking to keep its hopes alive for a BIG EAST playoff bye into the quarterfinals, responded at 80:34. Senior Kyle Soroka connected on a free kick that eluded Rutgers goalkeeper Kevin McMullen to tie the contest at one. The goal was Soroka's seventh on the season.
"You really saw Soroka's impact on the game over the final 15 minutes and into overtime," stated Carlin. "He scored the first goal and really created our second goal with his work."
At 86:48 Rutgers freshman Kene Eze put his team back in front with a shot to the top of the net. The goal was unassisted and it appeared as if this might be the game-winner.
The Wildcats, however, quickly pushed the ball down into the Rutgers end after the ensuing kickoff. Soroka got the ball to junior Dylan Renna who found sophomore Hayden Harr. The Scarlet Knights mis-played Harr's bid for a goal and it was ruled an own goal. Just like that, the contest was deadlocked again with under three minutes left in regulation time.
The contest moved to overtime and Eze again helped make a big play. The freshman took a cross from Thomas O'Rourke and re-directed it into the Wildcats net at 98:14 to lift Rutgers to the win.
"We get into overtime and it looked like we were in position to at least get a point," noted Carlin. "The one they scored on looked like a harmless play. But they finished it off and got the win."
Tonight's results ensured that the BIG EAST playoff fate of Villanova will not be settled until Saturday. Rutgers' win allows the Scarlet Knights to leapfrog Villanova, which presently sits in seventh place in the Red Division with eight points and one game remaining. RU has completed its BIG EAST schedule and has 10 points. Villanova will need a win Saturday and a bit of assistance in its bid to secure a BIG EAST playoff bid for the sixth consecutive season.
The top three teams in both the Red and Blue Divisions receive byes into the quarterfinals. The next four highest point totals will meet on Oct. 31 to determine which two squads advance to the quarterfinals.
"The one chance we have right now to be a playoff team is to win Saturday," says Carlin. "We do need some help after that but the first step is to get the win. We will have to pick ourselves up and be ready to go against Pittsburgh on Saturday."