Less than three minutes from having to settle for a frustrating draw in the rain, Max Kroschwitz started a counter attack and converted from the spot after teammate Yusuf Cueceoglu was taken down in the box to lift Villanova to a thrilling 2-1 win over Delaware.
Kroschwitz buried his penalty attempt in the 107th minute, beating Blue Hens goalkeeper Todd Morton with a right-footed shot after Cueceoglu was fouled in the box by Morton. Kroschwitz started the counter when he headed the ball on a corner kick attempt to Miguel Polley, who fed a streaking Cueceoglu.
Cueceoglu had a chance to take a shot from close range but instead took a touch to his right, leaving Morton with no choice but to make a lunging attempt to stop him. The West Chester native was issued a yellow card on the play.
“Naturally, you know everybody thinks he’s going to shoot that ball and then the composure to be able to just take a touch,” head coach Tom Carlin said. “Theo (Quartey) did the same thing against UMBC the game before and we were watching it on tape and everybody was admiring what he did.”
Kroschwitz’s goal was his first since November 2015 after missing all of last season with a knee injury. It was just his second penalty attempt in his Wildcats career; he converted his only other attempt to beat Lehigh in overtime in September 2014.
“The fact that at that late point in the game that Yusuf and Miggy were able to muster the energy to take us down and set up the PK was great,” Carlin said. “For Max to hit it home was awesome.”
While he conceded despite guessing the right way on the penalty, Morton was sensational on the day with six saves, including a diving finger tip save on a long range attempt from Wildcats midfielder Zach Zandi late in regulation. Nova keeper Will Steiner made five saves.
Villanova struck first just 15 minutes in when Polley connected on a corner kick with defender Nikkye DePoint, who headed the ball past Morton and inside the far post.
“I just stuck to my spot and no one followed me and I just tried to get a little flick on,” DePoint said of his second career goal.
Substitute Fiede Preto pulled the visitors back into the game when he fired home the rebound on his own shot. Preto thought he had tied the game moments earlier, but had the goal waved off.
“The spirit in our group was terrific and I am gutted for them to have lost so close to the end, where we could have gotten the result we needed to remain unbeaten,” Delaware head coach Ian Hennessey said in a news release.
The loss was the first for the Blue Hens (2-1-1) while Villanova’s win was their second straight after dropping their first two games of the season to Virginia and Temple.
“I even was starting to think it was going to be a tie but we just kept fighting through it,” DePoint said. “We just did really well to stick with it and then come up with a goal.”