Ricupati's Brace Powers St. John's Past Villanova, 2-1, in Double OT|
Oct. 25, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. - With crucial BIG EAST Championship implications on the line, the St. John's men's soccer team utilized a pair of spectacular late-game goals from Filippo Ricupati to capture a 2-1 double overtime victory over Villanova on Wednesday night at Belson Stadium.
Ricupati netted the equalizer on a highlight reel tally in the 69th minute before converting on a header in the 102nd minute. The effort marked the third multi-goal game of Ricupati's career and bumped his season-long goal total four, which ties for the team lead.
"It was an exciting game," said Head Coach Dr. Dave Masur following the victory. "Villanova has a great team. Tom Carlin and his coaching staff have done a great job. We knew it was going to be a hard game coming in and I think our guys responded really well. Anyone who stepped on the field really stepped in well and that's the kind of team effort we need. It was a character win because our backs were against the wall and we kept playing hard."
Harry Cooksley assisted on both of Ricupati's goals, while Alistair Johnston added the primary assist on the first marker. Cooksley, who now leads the team with four helpers on the year, also unleashed a game-high five shots, three of which were on target.
With the win, St. John's improved to 7-6-2 with a 4-2-1 mark in league play, equaling the program's highest BIG EAST win total since 2012. The Johnnies maintained their no. 3 ranking in the BIG EAST standings and now trail second-seeded Georgetown by just three points. The Red Storm welcomes the No. 10/7 Hoyas to Queens on Saturday night.
Andrew Withers made four saves on the evening for St. John's against Villanova (7-9, 2-4 BIG EAST), including a terrific diving stop to preserve the tie with time winding down in regulation.
The Red Storm fired off 19 shots on the evening, the team's second-highest single-game output of the season. A season-high nine of those attempts were on target for the Johnnies, who also earned eight corner kicks to Villanova's one.
After falling behind 1-0 in the third minute on a penalty kick goal from Zach Zandi, the Red Storm registered a series of chances that nearly knotted the score at one aside.
The Johnnies' first stellar opportunities of the game came in the 28th minute, as Cooksley unloaded on a free kick from 30 yards out that curled toward the bottom right corner of the cage. Villanova keeper Will Steiner, however, got a hand on it and sent it off the far post. The rebound went right to Johnston, but Steiner regrouped and denied his follow-up attempt, keeping the Red Storm scoreless.
Eight minutes later, the Red Storm registered two more great chances, beginning with another blast from Cooksley that was turned aside by Steiner. This time it was Ricupati on the rebound, but his attempt was blocked by a Villanova defender in front.
Andrea Previati narrowly missed an opportunity in the 41st minute, sending a try from distance just over the cross bar.
The Red Storm maintained its unrelenting offensive pressure on the other side of the intermission before finally breaking through in the 69th minute. Cooksley began the sequence just outside the 18 yard box in front of his own bench, playing a cross to the far side that was intended for Johnston. The sophomore from Aurora, Ontario, quickly and cleverly headed it down into the six-yard box toward Ricupati, who unleashed a right-footed bicycle kick into the right-side upper 90 well beyond the reach of Steiner to knot the game at one.
The Johnnies continued to press the issue over the remainder of regulation and the first overtime period before sealing the contest in the 102nd minute. After Johnston drew a foul just outside the box, Cooksley stood over a free kick in a nearly identical spot to where he began the string of events that led to Ricupati's first goal. With the Villanova defense fearing one of his forceful free kicks on net, Cooksley instead played a ball in front to a perfect spot for Ricupati, who headed it into the upper left corner of the cage and clinched three points.
The Red Storm returns to action on Saturday night at Belson Stadium, playing host to Georgetown at 7 p.m. The final regular season home game for the Johnnies, the match will also serve as the program's annual Senior Night, recognizing the contributions of eight student athletes in their final year with the team.