09 Dec 2021 | 11:12 | Football
VILLANOVA, Pa. – A hard-fought entertaining soccer match came to an end in the 92nd minute when Lucas Barlett of St. John’s converted a penalty kick to lift the Red Storm to a 1-0 BIG EAST victory over Villanova Saturday at the Higgins Soccer Complex.
This was the fifth consecutive 1-0 game for Villanova in BIG EAST action and its first loss after a program-best 4-0 start in league play. St. John’s moved its record to 8-3-1 overall, 3-1-1 BIG EAST) while the ‘Cats are now 8-3 overall, 4-1 BIG EAST.
“For a new game plan in what was a little bit of a different scheme for us, I thought we did a good job,” stated Villanova head coach Tom Carlin. “We only had one day of preparation for it.
“That is a very good team, a tough team. This game could have gone either way. As the game comes down the stretch and you see that it could go either way, you’re hoping you’re on the right end of it. We’ve been on the right end of a few of these. We lost our composure a little bit there at the end on the play that led to the PK but I’m really proud of the way the guys defended today.”
Indeed, opportunities to attack were precious on a windy, overcast afternoon with a hint of fall in the air. The two teams produced a total of just six shots in the game’s first 45 minutes, four from the Wildcats.
The game opened up a bit in the second half but each team got some clutch defensive work at key moments. Villanova goalkeeper Carson Williams made a series of clutch saves in the first 20 minutes of the period and Red Storm keeper Luke Gavran was just as stingy. Gavran stopped junior back Anthony Cousins Jr., who found himself in on goal midway through the second half on what was one of Nova’s best scoring chances of the day.
After 90 minutes, the game was level at zero.
Playing its second consecutive overtime period on the heels of a 1-0 double overtime win Wednesday night at Connecticut, Villanova was working to clear a ball in front of Williams when a collision cancelled a dangerous chance for the Red Storm. The referee’s whistle set up the penalty kick, which Barlett punched into the lower right side of the net at 91:24.
Villanova played without linchpin junior Josh Belluz, who was injured late in the first half of Wednesday night’s win. That absence played into Carlin’s choice to alter his plan of attack a bit.
“Not having Josh and some of the challenges St. John’s brings with how they play factored into that,” Carlin noted. “We shifted our approach a bit and I thought the guys did well making the adjustment with only one day of preparation.”
At halftime, Villanova honored three of the most accomplished teams in program history: the 1980 and 2012 groups, which share the single season record for wins and the 2016 edition which defeated three nationally ranked teams on its way to the first NCAA Tournament berth in program history. Carlin, who began his run as head coach in 2007, led the latter two of those teams.
“It was great to see everybody,” Carlin stated. “I made a joke earlier that in previous years when we had these events, we brought back guys I hadn’t coached. Now, we’re honoring teams I did coach a long time ago.
“That’s what this place is about – relationships and family. Unfortunately we didn’t get a result for them but to be able to see their faces and celebrate their accomplishments was really cool.”