QUEENS, N.Y. – With crucial Big East Championship implications on the line, the St. John’s University men used two late-game goals from Filippo Ricupati to record a 2-1 double extratime victory over Villanova University at Belson Stadium Wednesday night.
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 icnreased his season-long goal total four, tying for the team lead.
“It was an exciting game,” head coach Dr. Dave Masur said. “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 score.
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 remained in third place in the Big East and trail second-seeded Georgetown University by 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 diving stop to preserve the tie with time winding down in regulation.
After falling behind 1-0 in the third minute on a penalty kick from Zach Zandi, the Red Storm registered a series of chances that nearly knotted the score.
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, 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 goalkeeper Will Steiner for a 1-1 tie.
After Johnston drew a foul just outside the box in the 2012nd, 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 Belson Stadium, playing host to Georgetown University Saturday at 7 p.m.