March 29, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (2-5) conclude their non-conference slate this Saturday when they host No. 16 Penn State (6-3) at 7 p.m. in Villanova Stadium. The matchup marks the 7th top-20 team Villanova has played this season and the third of four consecutive weekend home games for the Wildcats.
Saturday marks the 19th overall meeting between the Wildcats and Nittany Lions while Penn State holds the 15-3 advantage in the all-time series. The Wildcats were defeated 13-8 in the most recent outing on March 31st 2012 in University Park, Pa. while Villanova claimed the previous two outings in 2011 and 2010.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with a 2-5 record after defeating Syracuse 11-10 last weekend for their BIG EAST opener. All of Villanova's losses have come from teams ranked in the top-20 of the national polls: Maryland (L, 10-7), Princeton (L, 14-11), Lehigh (L, 11-9), Drexel (L, 12-10) and Penn (L, 13-9). Villanova has posted wins over Delaware (W, 14-9) and Syracuse (W, 11-10).
As of the latest USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Polls released on Monday, March 25th, Villanova has nine ranked opponents on their 2013 schedule: No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Maryland, No. 9 Syracuse, No. 10 Princeton, No. 13 Penn, No. 14 Drexel, No. 16 Penn State, No. 18 Lehigh and No. 20 St. John's.
`Nova Offense: The Villanova senior and freshmen classes have combined to produce 72.8% of offensive production through seven games. Seniors Jack Rice (14g) and Max Hart (11g, 3a) lead the Villanova attack with 14 points each while Nick Doherty (7g, 6a) and Kevin O'Neil (6g, 7a) follow closely behind with 13 points each.
Junior face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist has posted a .601 win percentage this season, taking 101-of-168 attempts. He currently ranks third all-time in Villanova history with a .602 career face-off win percentage.
'Nova Defense: Senior Billy Hurley, sophomore Reed Carlson and freshman Greg Stamatov have all earned playing time this season. Carlson started the previous two contests posts a .429 save percentage and a 10.00 GAA. Combined, the three keepers have totaled an 11.70 GAA and a .459 save percentage.
The starting trio at close defense, juniors John LoCascio, Chris Conroy and Chris Piccirilli have combined for 57 ground balls and 39 caused turnovers. LoCascio currently leads the NCAA averaging 4.17 caused turnovers per game and has posted 33 ground balls and 25 caused turnovers this season.
A Look at Penn State: Penn State brings a 6-3 record into Saturday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Nittany Lions are coming off of four-straight wins over Massachusetts (W, 7-5), Binghamton (W, 11-7), St. Joseph's (W, 9-2) and Bucknell (W, 11-3) and also boast victories over Michigan (W, 11-6) and Denver (W, 15-2). Losses come from Notre Dame (L, 10-9 OT), Ohio State (L, 10-9 OT) and Lehigh (L, 12-10).
Nittany Lion Offense: Penn State averages 10.22 goals per game on offense and surrenders 7.36 goals per game defensively. Jack Forster (20g, 10a) leads the team with 30 points on the year while TJ Sanders (24g, 3a) and Shane Sturgis (17g, 7a) follow closely behind in the PSU point race through nine games.
Nittany Lion Defense: Junior goalkeeper Austin Kaut has been the primary netminder this season, playing over 540 minutes and posting a 7.29 GAA. His 103 saves are good for a .609 save percentage. His close defensemen, Jack Donnelly, JP Burnside and Tyler Travis have combined for 42 ground balls 22 caused turnovers.
The Last Meeting (3/31/12): Despite a 6-6 tie at halftime, 12th ranked Villanova couldn't surge to victory as No. 18 Penn State upset the Wildcats 13-8 at Penn State Lacrosse Field. Penn State, which entered the game averaging less than eight goals per contest, scored seven straight goals bridging the end of the second quarter and continuing into the fourth to solidify the victory. During that drought, the Nittany Lions managed to hold Villanova scoreless for 31:57 - the longest scoring drought for Villanova this season.