Villanova Still Unbeaten in Big East, Downs St. John's
from staff reports
JAMAICA, N.Y. — Villanova stormed into Jamaica, N.Y. and came away with a vital Big East victory as the Wildcats toppled No. 14 St. John's 13-11 on Saturday afternoon at DaSilva Memorial Field. With the win, Villanova remains undefeated in the conference at 4-0 and improved to 5-6 on the season while the Red Storm fell to 2-3 and 7-4 overall.
Sophomore Eric Gartner led the Wildcats with a career-high five points and three goals while senior Max Hart and freshman John Kluh both tallied hat tricks on the day. Junior face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist tallied 10 ground balls and went 17-of-27 at the face-off X while winning the last eight attempts of the afternoon to provide Villanova with valuable possessions down the final stretch.
"Winning faceoffs in the third and fourth quarters was hugem," Villanova coach Mike Corrado said. "Tom [Croonquist] gave us a lot of possessions in the second half which was a big plus for us. Kluh and Hart had had tricks and Gartner came up big as well. The defense played great. This was a good all around team effort for us."
Junior Christopher Conroy, tasked with defending the nation's leading point scorer in St. John's Kieran McArdle, held the attackman to just two points on the day which marked the lowest of the 2013 season for McArdle, who was averaging 7.0 points per game coming into today's matchup.
"Defending McArdle and Cernuto was a big task for our defense. The entire unit stepped up and Conroy played very well," said Corrado.
In a game that featured three tied scores, Villanova never gave up the lead and pulled away for the win in the third quarter when they matched their highest lead of the contest at 12-9 with just over 20 minutes left to play. Junior Kevin O'Neil added the final insurance goal of the contest with 9:42 on the clock in the fourth quarter to increase the Villanova lead at 13-10.
A St. John's goal with 7:41 remaining in the contest would cut the St. John's deficit to two at 13-11 with time to play, but it wouldn't be enough for a comeback rally as the Wildcats stifled the Red Storm offense in the final minutes of action.
Villanova held a slight advantage over Johnnies the after the first and second quarters at 4-3 and 7-6, respectively, following stretches of offense for both sides. Hart tallied two of his three goals in succession to start the match followed by Gartner and Kluh to give Villanova a 4-1 advantage after the first 10 minutes of play.
The Wildcats began the second quarter with two quick scores from Gartner and Kluh before St. John's went on a three-goal run to tie the game at 6-6 off of scores from Kevin Cernuto, Alex Lagodich and Ryan Fitzgerald. Senior Jack Rice registered the 112th goal of his career with 1:52 on the clock to break a 9:03 scoring drought for Villanova as the Wildcats headed into halftime with a slight 7-6 lead.
In a back and forth third stanza, Villanova's Tim Mulrenan, Rice, Kluh, Gartner and Hart all registered goals to outscore St. John's by a 5-3 margin. St. John's Fitzgerald tied the game at 8-8 with 12:05 on the clock before Villanova increased their lead to 10-8 and again at 12-9 to pull away in the quarter.
The Johnnies would outscore the Wildcats 2-1 in the final 15 minutes but it wouldn't be enough to overcome Villanova's scoring advantage.
Defensively, junior John LoCascio collected eight ground balls while sophomore goalkeeper Reed Carlson tallied six saves in the victory. St. John's goalkeeper Harry Burke, in his first career start, tallied 13 saves in the defeat.
Villanova will be back in action a week from today when they travel to South Bend, Ind. to face No. 4 Notre Dame on Saturday, April 20th. Game time is slated for 2 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.