May 2, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Led by the five-goal performance of senior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.), Villanova defeated the Georgetown Hoyas 15-12 on Thursday evening in the BIG EAST Semifinals in front of a crowd of 2,517. The Wildcats will now advance to the championship game and face No. 2 seeded Syracuse on Saturday, May 4th at Noon. The winner of that contest will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament slated to begin next week.
Following his five-goal performance, Rice is now in sole possession of second place on Villanova's all-time leading goal scorers list with 126 career goals. He is just two away from tying Chris Sullivan's 128 scores and three away from being the most prolific goal scorer in Villanova lacrosse history. The contest also marked the 20th career hat trick for Rice, who's scored at least four goals in Villanova's past three games.
Saturday's contest will also mark the first-ever appearance for Villanova in the BIG EAST Championship contest.
Head Coach Mike Corrado stated following the contest, "We are really excited about coming out on top tonight. It was an interesting game, very up-and-down and it was out of control at times. We made enough plays to win and that gives us an opportunity to play on Saturday, which was the goal coming in. We didn't play great the whole game but the guys did enough to give us a chance to play Syracuse in the championship game."
In a back and forth contest in the opening minutes, Villanova began to find their stride with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter when junior Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) tied the game at 3-3 off a Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) assist. Following O'Neil's score, the Wildcats went on to net five unanswered goals and held the Hoyas scoreless for the entire second quarter and for 21:36 total spanning from the 6:09 mark of the first quarter into the opening minute of the third stanza. During that run, the Wildcats saw scores from Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.), Eric Gartner (Great Valley, Pa.), Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.), Rice and O'Neil.
At the end of the first half, Villanova claimed a 7-3 edge over the Hoyas heading into the locker rooms.
Despite the Wildcats holding a sizeable lead at intermission, the Hoyas came out firing in the opening minutes of the second half and tallied three straight goals in less than four minutes from Travis Comeau, Reilly O'Connor and Brian Casey to close the VU lead to one at 7-6.
The Wildcats found their rhythm at the 9:16 mark when Tim Mulrenan (Glen Ridge, N.J.) found the back of the net and began a four-goal run by Villanova in the closing minutes of the third quarter. Casertano found an open Rice on a man-up opportunity just over a minute later to increase the VU lead to 9-6 and Casertano notched his own score following a deceiving feint pass to put the `Cats up 10-6 in the closing seconds of the stanza.
In an exciting fourth quarter with plenty of back and forth action, the Wildcats and Hoyas traded goals but Villanova never gave up the lead as the Hoyas tried to climb back into the contest. Following scores from Comeau and Zac Guy, the Hoyas closed the VU lead to three at 11-8 with 8:46 remaining in the contest, but Rice notched three of his five scores in the final 7:30 alongside a tally from Gartner to solidify the contest. Scores from GU's Reilly O'Connor and Charles McCormick in the waning minutes gave the Hoyas hope, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome the Villanova lead.
Defensively, Villanova was led by the four ground ball and four caused turnover performance of junior John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) while classmate Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) tallied seven ground balls going 11-of-30 from the faceoff X for the night. Sophomore goalkeeper Reed Carlson (Arnold, Md.) made five saves in the victory while Georgetown's Jake Haley tallied four in the defeat.
The Wildcats will now meet the Syracuse Orange for the BIG EAST Championship, who earlier in the day defeated Notre Dame 9-3 in the first semifinal matchup of the afternoon. Game time is slated for Noon at Villanova Stadium and the winner will earn the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Corrado continued, "Our kids are confident. The last few years we have played some great ballgames against them. These guys have played them before and matched up well with them. Syracuse is playing great right now in all facets of the game. We will have to play better than we did tonight in order to beat them."