Men's Lacrosse Faces No. 18 Penn in Inaugural Independence Classic at PPL Park
March 8, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (1-3) make the short trek to Chester, Pa. this Saturday to take part in the inaugural Whitman's Sampler Independence Classic hosted by Inside Lacrosse for a triple-header of lacrosse action. The Wildcats face their bitter rivals in No. 18 Penn (3-1) for a 2:30 p.m. matchup that will air live on ESPN3.com and be available via tape delay on Comcast SportsNet.
Saturday marks the 24th overall meeting between the Wildcats and Quakers while Penn holds the 15-8 advantage in the all-time series. Villanova claimed the most recent outing on March 10th, 2012 in a wild 8-7 last-second victory for the win at Franklin Field as Max Hart launched a shot from midfield for the score.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with a 1-3 record after falling to No. 5 Princeton 14-11 on Tuesday evening. Prior to the loss, Villanova posted their first win of the season 14-9 against Delaware on March 2nd. All of Villanova's three season losses are to ranked opponents: No. 5 Princeton (L, 14-11), No. 11 Lehigh (L, 11-9) and No. 14 Drexel (L, 12-10). The Wildcats are now in the midst of a five game stretch against teams that are currently ranked in the top-20.
As of the latest USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Polls released on Monday, March 2nd, Villanova will face No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 5 Princeton, No. 13 Penn State, No. 12 Syracuse, No. 14 Drexel, No. 18 Penn and No. 19 Lehigh on the 2013 schedule.
`Nova Offense: The Villanova junior and senior classes have combined to produce 65.9% of offensive production through three games. Seniors Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) and Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) lead the Villanova attack with eight points each via a combined 13 goals and three assists while freshman John Kluh (Lothian, Md.) follows closely behind with seven points via four goals and three assists.
Junior face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) has posted a .603 win percentage this season, taking 61-of-101 attempts. He currently ranks third all-time in Villanova history with a .604 career face-off win percentage following the Princeton contest.
'Nova Defense: Freshman goalkeeper Greg Stamatov (Foxboro, Mass.) has earned the starting role for Villanova and posts a 12.10 GAA while making 35 saves. His save percentage currently stands at .438%.
The starting trio at close defense, juniors John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.), Chris Conroy (Chatham, N.J.) and Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.) have combined for 33 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers. LoCascio currently leads the NCAA averaging 4.33 caused turnovers per game and has posted 21 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers this season.
A Look at Penn: Penn brings a 3-1 record into Saturday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Quakers are coming off a 6-4 victory over No. 17 Lehigh and opened the season with a 14-9 victory over then-No. 14 Duke. A 6-5 contest over St. Joseph's notched their third win of the season while their lone loss on the year comes from No. 10 Denver (L, 15-12).
Quaker Offense: Penn averages 9.50 goals per game on offense and surrenders 8.25 goals per game defensively. Tim Schwalje (8g, 7a) leads the team with 15 points on the year while Issac Bock (5g, 2a) follows closely behind with seven points through four games.
Quaker Defense: Junior goalkeeper Brian Feeney is the starter in goal for the Quarkers and has played all 240 minutes on the year while making 46 saves for a .582 save percentage. His GAA currently stands at 8.25 after facing 125 shots. His close defensemen, Anthony Santomo, Maxx Meyer and Matt McMahon have combined for 24 ground balls through four games.
The Last Meeting (3/10/12): The No. 12 Villanova Men's Lacrosse team certainly put a memorable stamp on their walk-off, last second goal from junior Max Hart 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 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.