April 19, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - 11th ranked Villanova (8-4, 4-0) returns home to Villanova Stadium this Saturday for the final regular-season home game of the season against No. 5 Notre Dame (9-1, 4-0). Game time is slated for 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.
Saturday marks the 16th overall meeting between the two schools with the all-time series favoring the Fighting Irish, 10-5. Notre Dame claimed the latest outing on April 2nd 2011 in a 12-8 victory in Arlotta Stadium last season. The Wildcats last won against the Irish on April 3rd, 2010 in a close 9-8 contest in Villanova Stadium. Villanova and Notre Dame have met every season since 2005.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with an 8-4 record after defeating St. John's 10-8 last Saturday. With the win, Villanova solidified a berth into the inaugural BIG EAST Championship to be held at Villanova Stadium on May 3rd and 5th. The Wildcats are undefeated in BIG EAST competition and a win over Notre Dame will likely clinch a No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Championship.
As of the latest USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Polls released on Monday, April 16th, Villanova has scheduled seven ranked opponents on their calendar this season: No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 8 Maryland, No. 12 Lehigh, No. 14 Princeton, No. 15 Syracuse, 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 12 games. The Wildcats average 11.00 goals per game compared to 10.00 from the competition, including a .638 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .593.
BIG EAST Preseason Offense Player of the Year Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) leads the Villanova attack with 35 points via 17 goals and 18 assists while juniors Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) and Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) follow closely behind with 32 and 27 points each, respectively. Sophomore face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) has posted a .620 win percentage from the X, taking 116-of-187 attempts on the season.
'Nova Defense: Senior Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) has been the mainstay in net for the Wildcats through 12 games. For the season, Gutierrez posts a 9.93 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 46 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers while sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Farifield, N.J.) has grabbed 50 ground balls and 18 caused turnovers for the year.
A Look at Notre Dame: Notre Dame brings a 9-1 record into Saturday's showdown with the Wildcats. The Fighting Irish are coming off a 9-7 victory versus Georgetown last weekend and have posted wins over Duke (7-3), Drexel (6-5), Hofstra (6-5), Denver (10-9 3OT), Ohio State (8-7), Rutgers (12-9), St. John's (13-6), Providence (9-1) and Georgetown. Their lone loss of the season comes from Penn State (4-3 OT).
Fighting Irish Offense: Notre Dame averages 8.30 goals per game on offense and surrenders just 5.47 goals per game defensively. Jim Marlatt leads the team with 20 points via 14 goals and six assists while Sean Rogers (13g, 4a) and Westy Hopkins (9g, 6a) follow closely behind with 17 and 15 points each.
Fighting Irish Defense: John Kemp is regarded as one of the best goaltenders in the nation and ranks first in the NCAA with a 5.54 goals against average and a .663 save percentage. His close defensemen, Matt Miller, Stephen O'Hara and Kevin Randall have posted 48 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers on the year while LSM's Bobby Smith and Tyler Anderson have tabbed 32 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers.
The Last Meeting (4/2/11): No. 8 Villanova held the upper-hand throughout the first quarter but the effort wouldn't sustain as No. 2 Notre Dame captured the 12-8 victory in front of 2,655 in Arlotta Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats were led by the three goal, one assist effort of CJ Burke and defensively by Brian Karalunas and Chris Creighton both of whom collected four ground balls and three caused turnovers for the afternoon.