April 12, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - 12th ranked Villanova (7-4, 3-0) returns home to Villanova Stadium this Saturday to host BIG EAST rival St. John's (6-4, 2-2) for the first weekend home game since February. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will also serve as HEADstrong Night.
Saturday marks the 13th overall meeting between the two schools with the all-time series tied at 6-6. Villanova has won the previous three outings since the rivalry was reignited in 2010 with the formation of the BIG EAST Lacrosse Conference and claimed the latest contest on April 23rd, 2011 in an 11-9 victory in Queens, N.Y. The Red Storm has not won a game over the Wildcats in nearly 20 years dating back to April 4th, 1992.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with a 7-4 record after defeating Rutgers 14-9 last Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. With the win, Villanova claimed their third straight BIG EAST contest, putting them on the fast-track to the inaugural BIG EAST Conference Tournament to be hosted at Villanova on Mary 3rd and 5th. A victory over St. John's will clinch a tournament berth for the Wildcats.
As of the latest USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Polls released on Monday, April 9th, Villanova has scheduled seven ranked opponents on their calendar this season: No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 9 Maryland, No. 11 Lehigh, No. 13 Syracuse, No. 15 Princeton, No. 16 Penn State and No. 18 Bucknell.
`Nova Offense: The Villanova junior and senior classes have combined to produce 84% of offensive production through 11 games. The Wildcats average 11.09 goals per game compared to 10.18 from the competition, including a .648 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .603.
BIG EAST Preseason Offense Player of the Year Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) leads the Villanova attack with 32 points via 16 goals and 16 assists while juniors Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) and Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) follow closely behind with 31 and 27 points each, respectively. Sophomore face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) has posted a .634 win percentage from the X, taking 111-of-175 attempts on the season.
'Nova Defense: Senior Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) has been the mainstay in net for the Wildcats through 11 games. For the season, Gutierrez posts a 10.11 goals against average and a .491 save percentage.
The starting trio at close defense, seniors Chris Creighton (West Chester, Pa.), Ryan McDonagh (Huntington, N.Y.) and sophomore Christopher Conroy (Chatham, N.J.) have combined for 43 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers while sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Farifield, N.J.) has grabbed 47 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers for the year.
A Look at St. John's: St. John's brings a 6-4 record into Saturday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Red Storm is coming off a 13-12 overtime victory versus Georgetown last Saturday and has posted wins over Holy Cross (17-7), Siena (8-5), Stony Brook (11-9), Rutgers (7-6) and Sacred Heart (13-8). St. John's losses have come from Yale (19-6), Syracuse (9-8), Hofstra (14-10) and Notre Dame (13-6).
Red Storm Offense: St. John's averages 9.90 goals per game on offense and surrenders 10.22 goals per game defensively. Kieran McArdle leads the team with 38 points via 17 goals and 21 assists while Kevin Cernuto (16g, 11a) and Harry Kutner (15g, 8a) follow closely behind with 27 and 22 points each.
Red Storm Defense: Jeff Lowman has been the mainstay in net for the Red Storm through 10 games and has posted over 550 minutes between the pipes. Lowman boasts a 10.22 goals against average and a .545 save percentage. His close defensemen, Joe Addona, Mark DiFrangia and Harrison Freid have posted 50 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers on the year while LSM Dillon Ayers has tabbed 45 ground balls and nine caused turnovers.
The Last Meeting (4/23/11): The 11th-ranked Villanova Wildcats wouldn't take the lead until 4:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, but goals from Michael Vigilante and Matt Bell would solidify the 11-9 victory over St. John's on Saturday afternoon. Kevin Cunningham led the team with four points via two goals and two assists while Jack Rice and Vigilante each contributed three points each.