March 23, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - For the second straight time in BIG EAST Conference regular-season action, the Villanova Wildcats (2-5, 1-0) upset No. 4 Syracuse (5-2, 2-1) by a score of 11-10 on a crisp, cool night in Villanova Stadium in front of 2,527.
Led by the career and school record-breaking performance of junior face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) who won an astounding 22-of-24 (.916) attempts at midfield, the Wildcats pulled ahead for the victory with just 2:44 left to play and held on for the win to post their first victory in conference action.
The Wildcat victory broke a five-game win streak for the Orange dating back to February 24th and marked the first win for Villanova this season over a ranked opponent. With the win, VU improved to 2-5 overall and 1-0 in the conference while Syracuse fell to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the BIG EAST.
Seven Wildcats posted points for the evening while senior Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) led the team with four points through one goal and three assists. In addition to his dominate face-off performance, Croonquist tallied a career-high 11 ground balls and provided the game-winning assist for the night.
Villanova dominated the stat sheet, outshooting the Orange 44-21, winning the ground ball battle 32-19 and going 2-for-3 on extra man opportunities.
In a game where Villanova never trailed by more than three goals, the Wildcats battled back from a two-goal deficit four times in the final 30 minutes of play and tied the game at 9-9 in the fourth quarter when Hart found an open Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) for the score. However, Syracuse clawed their way back when Dylan Donahue scored just under five minutes later to give the Orange a slight edge at 10-9 with 7:56 left to play.
With 3:51 on the clock, Syracuse was called for their fifth stall warning of the contest which forced Derek Maltz to take a point-black shot that was saved by Villanova goalkeeper Reed Carlson (Arnold, Md.). After a successful defensive transition, Doherty found an open Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) to tie the game at 10-10 with 2:51 left to play.
The all-important ensuing face-off was once again won by Croonquist, who streaked downfield and found freshman Tim Mulrenan (Glen Ridge, N.J.) open for the game-winning goal just seven seconds later and solidified the contest for the Wildcats. After running down the clock and on the fortunate side of a Syracuse turnover, the Wildcats claimed their conference opening win at 11-10.
After finishing the first quarter tied 2-2 with scores from freshman John Kluh (Lothian, Md.) and junior Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.), Syracuse went on a three-goal run to open the second quarter with goals from Maltz, Billy Ward and JoJo Marasco.
After being held scoreless for 13:42, Rice notched his first goal of the game off a Hart assist to begin the Villanova comeback. Just over a minute later, Kluh took a shot that rolled past Syracuse keeper Dominic Lamolinara to close the gap at 5-4 going into intermission.
The third stanza saw a total of eight goals from both sides in back and forth action with Syracuse matching their biggest lead for the contest at 8-5 with 7:27 on the clock. O'Neil's subsequent two assists to Hart and Mulrenan cut the deficit at 8-7 before Syracuse's Kevin Rice and Villanova's Doherty closed the quarter with one goal apiece to give the Orange an 8-9 advantage with 15 minutes left to play.
Impressive defensive performances by junior John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) and sophomore Christian Kolderup (Darien, Conn.), who combined for 10 ground balls and five caused turnovers, aided a Villanova defense that combined for a total of 15 ground balls and seven caused turnovers. Carlson's five saves earned him the victory while Syracuse's Lamolinara made 12 stops in the defeat.
The Wildcats will continue on with their stretch against opponents ranked the top-20 of the national polls when they take on No. 17 Penn State a week from today on Saturday, March 30th. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. in Villanova Stadium.