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Villanova Opens BIG EAST Action Hosting No. 4 Syracuse Saturday

 No. 4 Syracuse (5-1) vs. Villanova (1-5)
Date/Time Saturday, March 23, 2013 | 7 p.m.
Location Villanova, Pa.
Multimedia Gametracker | Nova Nation All-Access

March 21, 2013

Game Notes | Nova Nation All-Access | Live Stats | Twitter

VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (1-5) begin BIG EAST action this Saturday when they host No. 4 Syracuse (5-1) at 7 p.m. in Villanova Stadium. The matchup marks the third top-five team Villanova has played this season and the second of four consecutive weekend home games for the Wildcats.

Saturday marks the seventh overall meeting between the Wildcats and Orange while Syracuse holds the 5-1 advantage in the all-time series. Villanova and Syracuse met twice during the 2012 season with each team claiming one victory each: the Wildcats notched an 11-10 victory during the regular season while the Orange bested Villanova in the semifinals of the inaugural BIG EAST Championship, 15-6.

The Last Meeting
May 3, 2012
Villanova, Pa.
Orange Top Wildcats in BIG EAST Semi-Final, 15-6
No. 17 Villanova (8-7, 4-2) closed the gap 5-to-4 with over 45 minutes left to play, but it wouldn't be enough to hold off Syracuse (8-7, 3-3) at Villanova Stadium as the Wildcats fell 15-6 in their BIG EAST Semi-Final.

Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with a 1-5 record after falling to No. 1 Maryland 10-7 last Saturday .Villanova posted their first win of the season in a 14-9 victory over Delaware on March 2nd. All of Villanova's losses have come from teams ranked in the top-20 of the national polls: No. 1 Maryland (L, 10-7), No. 5 Princeton (L, 14-11), No. 11 Lehigh (L, 11-9), No. 14 Drexel (L, 12-10) and No. 18 Penn (L, 13-9). 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 17th, Villanova has eight ranked opponents on their 2013 schedule: No. 1 Maryland, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Syracuse, No. 9 Penn, No. 11 Princeton, No. 16 Lehigh, No. 17 Penn State and No. 19 Drexel.

`Nova Offense: The Villanova junior and senior classes have combined to produce 67.8% of offensive production through five games. Senior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) leads the Villanova attack with 12 points via 12 goals while classmates Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.), Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) and junior Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.) follow closely behind with 10 points each.

Junior face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) has posted a .549 win percentage this season, taking 79-of-144 attempts. He currently ranks third all-time in Villanova history with a .587 career face-off win percentage.

'Nova Defense: Senior Billy Hurley (Morristown, N.J.), sophomore Reed Carlson (Arnold, Md.) and freshman Greg Stamatov (Foxboro, Mass.) have all earned significant playing time this season. Carlson started against No. 1 Maryland just a week ago and posted a .500 save percentage and a 10.00 GAA. Combined, the three keepers have totaled a 12.00 GAA and a .473 save percentage.

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 48 ground balls and 33 caused turnovers. LoCascio currently leads the NCAA averaging 4.20 caused turnovers per game and has posted 27 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers this season.

A Look at Syracuse: Syracuse brings a 5-1 record into Saturday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Orange are coming off four-straight wins over Army (W, 6-2), Virginia (W, 9-8 OT), St. John's (W, 13-11), John Hopkins (W, 13-8) and Providence (W, 18-9) after falling in their season opener to Albany 16-15 in double-overtime on February 17th.

Orange Offense: Syracuse averages 12.33 goals per game on offense and surrenders 8.81 goals per game defensively. JoJo Marasco (6g, 15a) leads the team with 21 points on the year while Kevin Rice (5g, 9a), Luke Cometti (9g, 3a), Derek Maltz (8g, 3a) and Dylan Donahue (8, 3a) follow closely behind in the Orange point race through six games.

Orange Defense: Sophomore goalkeeper Bobby Wardwell has received the majority of starts for the season and has played just over 280 minutes in goal on the year making 37 saves for a .451 save percentage. Dominic Lamolinara received the start in their most recent game against Providence and has played 78 minutes for 16 saves and a .696 save percentage. Their close defensemen, Brian Megill, David Hamlin and Sean Young have combined for 42 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers.

The Last Regular Season Meeting (2/23/12): The 14th-ranked Villanova Wildcats posted a historic 11-10 victory over ninth-ranked Syracuse in front of 3,811 at the Carrier Dome on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Wildcats broke a four-game winless streak against Syracuse dating back to March 2nd, 1991 and also handed the Orange their first-ever BIG EAST Conference loss since the formation of the league in 2010. The Wildcat victory also broke an eight-game at home win streak for the Orange dating back to an 11-6 decision to Cornell on April 12, 2011.