March 10, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The No. 12 Villanova Men's Lacrosse team certainly put a memorable stamp on their walk-off, last second goal from junior Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) to solidify the 8-7 victory over Penn on Saturday afternoon.
After a Quaker timeout with 29 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied at 7-7, Penn's Rob Fitzpatrick weaved his way through the Villanova defense, taking the probable last shot of regulation. But a point-blank save from senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) gave the Wildcats possession with 11 seconds remaining in the game. What happened next is something for the record books.
Gutierrez found a cutting Hart - who less than a minute earlier made the game-tying goal with 1:09 on the clock - and proceeded to sprint and unleash an underhand blast from the 40 yard line that skidded past Penn's goalkeeper. With just one second remaining in the game, Villanova solidified the victory and held the lead for the first time all game at 8-7.
"I was just calling for the ball from Gutierrez and sprinted up field looking for [Jack] Rice, but no one was open, so I looked at the clock and took a shot and saw the team coming towards me to celebrate. Gutierrez gets a ton of credit for making the pass," says Hart. Gutierrez continued, "I knew the defense had to step up. I looked up at the clock after the save, Hart was streaking and I just made the pass. It's a good team win as we head into Princeton."
With the victory, Villanova improves to 4-1 on the season while Penn drops to 1-3. The win marks the second straight over the Quakers after defeating the local rival 9-8 in overtime last year at Villanova Stadium.
Penn looked like they were on the road to victory after opening a 6-2 lead midway through the third quarter and holding the Wildcats scoreless for 23:58. Junior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) broke the Villanova scoring drought off a Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) assist, taking advantage of a one minute, non-releasable Quaker penalty. Just ten seconds later, Hart connected for his first score of the game to close the gap to 6-4 at the end of the third quarter.
Both teams went scoreless for nearly seven minutes to start the fourth stanza before Penn's Zack Losco connected off a Tim Schwalje assist to give Penn a 7-4 lead.
Momentum slowly began to shift in favor of the Wildcats when Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.) tallied an unassisted score just 30 seconds later. Villanova then capitalized off a Penn turnover with Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) finding an open Casertano to get Villanova to within one at 7-6, and Hart gave Villanova the game-tying score at the 1:09 mark before netting the dramatic game-winner with one second on the clock.
Head Coach Mike Corrado states, "We fought for the whole game. A lot of credit goes to our seniors who really stepped up when we went down. It's a great win for our team in the early part of the season, especially against a local rival in Penn,"
"Our defense played very well, especially in the second half. John LoCascio and Chris Creighton both had excellent games along with Chris Conroy, Ryan McDonagh, Mark Jackson and Dan Gutiererez. They stepped up, made a great team effort to get a stop at the end of the game and Max Hart made a great individual play to get himself open," said Corrado.
Defensively, senior Chris Creighton grabbed a career-high seven ground balls and four caused turnovers while sophomore John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) also picked up seven ground balls and two caused turnovers for the afternoon. Gutierrez posted five saves for the day while Penn's Brian Feeney made nine stops in the defeat.
Villanova will be back in action in just three days when the Wildcats host No. 14 Princeton on Tuesday, March 13th. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. at Villanova Stadium.