Jan. 31, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - With the 2013 men's lacrosse season just days away with the first scrimmage against Stony Brook this Saturday, the Wildcats are ready for another year under seventh-year head coach Mike Corrado and his experienced coaching staff.
2012 arguably graduated the most successful senior class in Villanova lacrosse history, and the Wildcats have to replace seven starters and 46% of their offensive scoring from last season. The 2012 slate provided plenty of highlights including starting the season with the highest preseason ranking of all time at No. 7, handing Syracuse their first-ever BIG EAST regular season defeat and making the inaugural BIG EAST Championship tournament as the No. 2 seed and host institution. While the accomplishments of the 2012 season are plentiful, the 2013 Wildcats are ready to get back to work and are poised for even greater success with fresh talent and experienced upperclassmen.
In addition to a top-flight schedule that includes traditional foes, Villanova will revisit new rivalries against powerhouse programs such as Maryland and Princeton and will compete for the last time against fellow BIG EAST members Syracuse and Notre Dame before they depart for the Atlantic Coast Conference following the 2012 season. 2013 also marks the inaugural year for the Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic at PPL Park where the Wildcats will face Penn in a triple header of lacrosse action in Chester, Pa. Villanova will also once again have the honor of hosting the BIG EAST Championship with the top four teams in round-robin season play earning a chance for an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats are certain to have a different look at attack after the departure of 2012 BIG EAST Attack Player of the Year and USILA All-American Kevin Cunningham, who led the team in assists and points for the past two seasons, but Villanova has the luxury of several upperclassmen to lead the team under Associate Head Coach Simon Connor's unconventional offense.
2011 and 2012 First Team All-BIG EAST and 2013 Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md./Boys' Latin) returns to captain the squad for his final season after tallying 31 goals, one assist and 32 points in 2012. Regarded as one of the best non-Canadian crease attackmen in the nation, Rice currently ranks 7th all-time at Villanova with 91 goals and is just 38 scores away from becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in Wildcat history.
Classmate Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y./Salisbury School), a three-year starter, joins Rice as part of the Wildcat attack. Casertano has been a vital part of Connor's offense since his freshman season and rounded out a stellar junior campaign with 17 goals, 20 assists and was second on the team with 37 points in 2012. Filling out the starting line is Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J./Delbarton), who returns to attack after playing defensive midfield last season. Doherty gained preseason notoriety after being drafted as the 58th overall selection in the 2013 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft by the Hamilton Nationals and will create plenty of problems for opposing defensemen. Doherty finished the 2012 season with 10 goals and four assists and will take over quarterbacking duties with Cunningham's departure.
Sophomore Ryan DeSimone (Saint James, N.Y./Smithtown East) leads the underclassmen after appearing in 10 contests during his freshman season with one goal and two assists and freshmen Harry DellaFera (Lattington, N.Y./Friends Academy), Johnny Gallaway (Middletown, Md./Middletown) and Tim Mulrenan (Glen Ridge, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) round out Villanova's true attackmen for the year and will push for minutes. DellaFera was an all-county selection at Friends Academy while Gallaway was named a 2012 U.S. Lacrosse All-American and listed as an ESPN Top 100 pick. Mulrenan set a school record with 152 career points at Seton Hall Prep and was named a New Jersey Non-Public All-State selection.
The Wildcats have big shoes to fill at midfield after the departure of First Team All-BIG EAST selection Matt Bell, Second Team All-BIG EAST selection Michael Vigilante, C.J. Small and CJ Burke from last season. The Class of 2012 accounted for 43 goals, 35 assists and 78 points last year and each saw significant time during their four years on the Main Line. Despite the losses, the Wildcats are prepped for the future with a group of underclassmen who are ready to take the reins.
Led by senior co-captain Max Hart (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep) and junior lefty Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md./Boys' Latin), the 2013 midfield features a wealth of speed and athleticism that's become a trademark of Villanova. The duo combined for 26 goals, 15 assists and 41 points in 2012 and have all the talent necessary to make big strides this season. Seniors Paul Mita (Berwyn, Pa./Conestoga) and Harte Thompson(Chester Springs, Pa./Malvern Prep) both saw increasing minutes as juniors and at 6'4" and 6'2" respectively, have the size to compete against any team in the nation.
A trio of sophomores in Christian Bennardo (Cutchogue, N.Y./St. Anthony's), Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa./Great Valley) and Graham Maybell (Darien, Conn./Darien) have the potential to see significant minutes after learning the offense from seasoned veterans last year. Combined, the class accounted for two goals, one assist, four ground balls and one caused turnover last year and made huge strides during the off season and Fall Ball.
Freshmen John Kluh (Lothian, Md./St. Mary's), Jack Curran (Fair Haven, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven), Kieran Kenny (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) and Matt McIver (Andover, Mass./Andover) all have the opportunity to see significant time during their first year on the Main Line. Kluh comes to Villanova regarded as one the of the top players in the highly-competitive MIAA conference while Curran became the first player in Rumson-Fair Haven history to eclipse the 100 goal mark and earned all-american and all-state accolades. Kenny is one of the fastest recruits in recent history and holds the USATF 100m New Jersey state record and earned all-conference laurels. McIver was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American and is a two-time Massachusetts all-conference honoree and adds depth and athleticism to the Villanova roster.
Juniors Mark Jackson (West Chester, Pa./Malvern Prep) and Jimmy Wyatt (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central Regional) return after earning extensive time during their first two seasons with the team. Jackson accounted for one goal, one assist, eight ground balls and two caused turnovers in 2012 while Wyatt picked up two ground balls and two caused turnovers. Both will be heavily relied upon as the team adjusts to the new speed of the game with the upcoming rule changes and will gain more experience with Doherty's move to attack.
New to the position is junior Remington Pope (Boston, Mass./The Governor's Academy) who made the switch to defensive midfield after spending his first two seasons as a long pole. He'll be joined alongside sophomore Michael Duffy (McLean, Va./Potomac School) to round out Villanova's short stick middies. Combined, the Pope and Duffy appeared in 10 games and caused one turnover last season.
Regarded as one of the top face-off men in the nation after outstanding freshman and sophomore seasons is junior Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep), who garnered 2013 preseason All-BIG EAST and All-America Honorable Mention laurels. The 2012 All-BIG EAST Second Team selection finished 9th in the country last season with a .603 face-off win percentage from the X, winning 140-232 attempts. For his career, Croonquist currently ranks third all-time at Villanova with a .602 win percentage and has won 221-367 attempts while grabbing 104 ground balls, four assists and three caused turnovers.
Also looking for experience is sophomore Michael Tsiang (Summit, N.J./Summit), who attempted three face-off's in2012 and freshman Brent Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) who comes to the Main Line following his brother's footsteps after a outstanding prep school career at Seton Hall Prep. The younger Croonquist brings a 70% prep school win percentage from X and plenty of size at 6'3", 200lbs.
LONG STICK MIDFIELD
No longer the Wildcats best kept secret after a breakout sophomore season is junior co-captain and 2013 All-BIG EAST Preseason selection John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex Regional). A 2012 All-BIG EAST Second Team and BIG EAST All-Championship Team honoree, LoCascio posted 65 ground balls, caused 28 turnovers and notched one goal and two assists last year. LoCascio has seen action in all 31 games of his career and is poised to make big strides during his third year with the team and will be a mainstay on the turf this spring.
Also battling for playing time is sophomore Connor Oltmans (Belle Mead, N.J./Montgomery)and freshman John Moderski (Philadelphia, Pa./Penn Charter). Oltmans appeared in two games as a freshman while Moderski was named a First Team All-State and All-Inter-AC selection at Penn Charter, notching eight goals and 15 assists as a defenseman.
The Wildcats reload after the graduation of three-year starter Chris Creighton, an unanimous selection to the 2012 First Team All-BIG EAST team, and Ryan McDonagh, an on-field leader and co-captain during his senior season, but Villanova returns several experienced and talented upperclassmen who will adjust in their absence.
Leading the backfield are juniors Christopher Conroy (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) and Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md./Archbishop Spalding), both of whom appeared in all 15 games on defense in 2012. Conroy, a starter as a sophomore, is regarded as one of the best coverage defensemen in the conference while Piccirilli played vital minutes after being chosen to the 122 player pool for the U-19 FIL World Championships in 2011. Combined, the duo collected 35 ground balls, 17 caused turnovers and two goals last year and provide size and quickness to the Villanova backfield.
Looking to fill the third slot are seniors Tyler Brennan (East Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville) and Hunter Broome (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School). Broome began to see consistent time at the end of 2012 as the seniors combined for 11 games, three ground balls and one caused turnover. Sophomore Christian Kolderup (Darien, Conn.) is also gunning for the position after gaining experience during his freshman season and adjusting to the pace of the college game.
Corrado and his staff also have potential in Terence Foley (Islip, N.Y./Islip) and Dan Goldstein (Middletown, Md./Middletown). They'll look to transition to the college game after being named all-county and all-state selections, respectively.
Villanova's goalkeeping remains hotly contested going in to the 2013 season, with seniors Billy Hurley (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) and Peter Metcalf (Sea Girt, N.J./Governor's Academy) having the most game-ready experience. After posting an 8.33 goals against average and 124 saves in 2011, Hurley currently ranks third all-time at Villanova with a career 8.69 goals against average. His 219 career saves place him 10th overall on the all-time list amongst Wildcat keepers. In 2012, Hurley and Metcalf combined for three games and five saves.
Sophomore Reed Carlson (Arnold, Md./St. Mary's) is now comfortable and familiar with the pace of the college game and is ready to make a charge for playing time in his second year after coming back from a high school injury, while freshman Greg Stamatov (Foxboro, Mass./Foxboro) comes to Villanova after a highly successful prep school career at Foxboro High School where he was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American at Foxboro High School. All four keepers showed promise in Fall Ball and will try to lock down the starting position during spring practices.