The win snaps a four game unbeaten string for the Wildcats, who fall to 8-6-3 overall in 2014, 3-3-2 in the BIG EAST. Villanova locked up its berth in the BIG EAST Tournament with a 1-0 win Wednesday evening at St. John's.
As a result of today's BIG EAST action, the Wildcats are now assured of finishing as the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. They will visit the No. 4 seed on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Creighton, Xavier, Providence and Georgetown will be the top four seeds but the order of finish is dependent upon a match Sunday (Providence at Butler) and contests coming up on Friday.
Xavier, which had a nine game unbeaten streak snapped in overtime on Wednesday at Georgetown, worked quickly to regain momentum. Will Walker fired a cross into the box that found Walker Andriot, who finished into the goal at the 5:51 mark to stake the Musketeers to a 1-0 lead.
"We committed a turnover in a critical area and they took advantage," stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. "I thought they had the better of play in the early part of the game and it took us some time to find our tempo."
Villanova, playing without one of its dynamic attacking forwards in senior Aaron Dennis (received his fifth yellow card of the campaign last time out at St. John's), wasn't able to find an equalizer in the first 45 minutes and the contest went to halftime with Xavier holding that 1-0 advantage. In fact, Xavier owned a 6-1 edge in shots taken in the period.
"It just felt like we were a little out of sorts playing without Aaron," Carlin stated.
The Wildcats made every effort to draw even in the second half. Senior Hayden Harr fired a blast that caromed off the goalpost. Late, the Cats appeared to have found the goal they needed in the 77th minute when a ball went past Xavier goalkeeper Eric Osswald. But the linesman had his flag up for a Villanova offside on the play and the score was waved off.
A few moments later, Xavier (11-4-2 overall, 5-1-2 BIG EAST) countered successfully when Owen Steinwall found Josh Grant with a pass as the Wildcats were caught forward. It resulted in Grant's second goal of the season at 80:45.
"At that point we're just pushing everything forward trying to get the goal so you leave yourself open to that," stated Carlin.
Xavier completed the scoring at 89:44 when Steinwall picked up his second assist of the night on a feed to Eric McWoods, who broke in alone on Wildcats' goalkeeper Will Steiner and scored to make the final 3-0.
For the night, the Musketeers owned an 18-5 edge in shots. Steiner made five saves in the Wildcats' net.
"Xavier is a good team and they deserved to win tonight," said Carlin. "We can do a better job of possessing the ball and establishing our tempo than we were able to do tonight, especially early." One contest remains in the regular season for Villanova and it comes this Friday at 2 p.m. at the Higgins Soccer Complex. The Wildcats will celebrate Senior Day as they host Georgetown.