JAMAICA, N.Y. – The Villanova Wildcats got the early lead and some fine play from senior goalkeeper Will Steiner Wednesday night but it wasn’t enough to hold off a late charge from St. John’s, which posted a 2-1 double overtime victory here this evening.
The BIG EAST setback gives VU a 7-9 overall record and 2-5 in BIG EAST action. The Red Storm, meanwhile, improves to 7-6-2 overall, 4-2-1 in the conference.
It was an entertaining battle from start to finish.
The Wildcats entered the action on a cool fall night here at Belson Stadium seeking a quick start and were able to capitalize after a Red Storm defender was whistled for a foul on a Villanova scoring bid inside the 18 yard box. Junior Zach Zandi calmly deposited the ball into the net and Villanova had itself a 1-0 lead before the match was three minutes old.
“I thought we got off to the start we wanted,” stated Wildcats head coach Tom Carlin. “We were creating opportunities, we got the early goal, and our defense was sharp.”
In the 60th minute the Wildcats nearly extended their lead to two goals after a clever steal by senior Lucas Hodges of an outlet pass from St. John’s goalkeeper Andrew Withers. Hodges then elevated a short pass to classmate Max Kroschwitz on the right side in front of the net. Kroschwitz re-directed the ball with a header that appeared ticketed for the top shelf before clipping the crossbar and sailing over the net.
“We had a couple of chances to get that second goal and we couldn’t come up with it,” Carlin stated. “If we get the second goal, it becomes a different game.”
The count remained 1-0 thanks in no small part to the spectacular efforts of Steiner in goal. The native of Point Lookout, N.Y. finished the evening with seven saves and for a while it appeared his work would be enough to lift the Wildcats to three points.
“This was Steiner’s best game of the year,” noted Carlin. “He was fantastic.”
That it took a highlight reel effort from St. John’s to get one past him was fitting. The play began with Ricupati stationed with his back to the goal when Red Storm teammate Allistair Johnston headed a ball down towards the artificial surface. Ricupati calmly took the feed, and while facing away from the net, used a bicycle kick to fire the ball into the upper part of the net to deadlock matters at 1. The goal came at 60:52.
Both teams had chances for the game-winner but the contest remained tied after 90 minutes. Ten minutes of the first overtime didn’t produce a victor but that changed in the 102nd minute. Harry Cooksley’s free kick found Ricupati, who headed this one into the net at 101:23 to give St. John’s the win.
“I thought our guys played hard, tough and for each other,” stated Carlin. “We were at the end of a long stretch of road games and maybe that took a toll in the overtime. But when you have the opportunities to make it 2-0 and aren’t able to do that, you leave yourself open to this kind of result.”
Villanova returns to its West Campus home for the first time in three weeks on Saturday. It hosts Providence at 1 p.m. as part of the University’s Homecoming Weekend and will honor the Class of 2018 in an on-field ceremony. The regular season concludes in one week, at Seton Hall on Nov. 1.