Villanova Takes on Syracuse in BIG EAST Semi-Final
May 1, 2012
Villanova Game Notes
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The inaugural BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship hosted by Villanova University begins this Thursday, May 3rd and will provide some of the best collegiate lacrosse action in the nation. Notre Dame, Villanova, Syracuse and St. John's have earned the right to play for the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and the action will conclude on Saturday, May 5th in the Championship game slated to face-off at Noon in Villanova Stadium.
Notre Dame (11-1, 6-0) will take on St. John's (7-6, 3-3) in the first semi-final match on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. which will air live on ESPNU, while the Villanova Wildcats (8-6, 4-2) square off against the Syracuse Orange (7-7, 3-3) in the second semi-final match of the day at 7 p.m. on ESPN3 and on tape delay on ESPNU.
Thursday's contest marks the 6th overall meeting between Villanova and Syracuse with the all-time series favoring Syracuse, 4-1. Villanova claimed the regular-season contest for the first-ever win over the Orange at the Carrier Dome in an 11-10 victory on March 25th 2012. The triumph marked the first BIG EAST Conference loss in Syracuse history and broke an eight-game at home win streak for the Orange.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Thursday's contest with an 8-6 record after falling at Providence 15-11 last Saturday. The defeat marked the first loss to Providence in series history while the Friars claimed their first-ever BIG EAST win in their last game of the 2012 season.
As of the latest USILA Coaches and Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Polls released on Monday, April 30th, Villanova has seven ranked opponents on their calendar this season: No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 6 Maryland, No. 7 Lehigh, No. 9 Princeton, No. 14 Penn State, No. 19 Drexel and No. 20 Bucknell.
`Nova Offense: The Villanova junior and senior classes have combined to produce 84% of offensive production through 14 games. The Wildcats average 10.71 goals per game compared to 10.36 from the competition, including a .638 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .599.
BIG EAST Preseason Offense Player of the Year Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) leads the Villanova attack with 41 points via 20 goals and 21 assists while junior Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) and C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) follow closely behind with 36 and 31 points each, respectively. Sophomore face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) has posted a .605 win percentage from the X, taking 130-of-215 attempts on the season.
'Nova Defense: Senior Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) has been the mainstay in net for the Wildcats through 14 games. For the season, Gutierrez posts a 10.09 goals against average and a .479 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 53 ground balls and 32 caused turnovers while sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Farifield, N.J.) has grabbed 60 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers for the year.
A Look at Syracuse: Syracuse brings a 7-7 record into Thursday's showdown with Villanova. The Orange have struggled this season having lost to Virginia (14-10), Johns Hopkins (11-7), Villanova (11-10), Duke (12-10), Cornell (12-6), Georgetown (10-8) and Notre Dame (8-6). Their victories have come over Albany (12-7), Army (10-9), St. John's (9-8), Providence (10-6), Princeton (10-9), Rutgers (19-6) and Hobart (13-12).
Orange Offense: Syracuse averages 10.00 goals per game on offense and surrenders 9.64 goals per game defensively. Tommy Palasek leads the team with 41 points via 19 goals and 22 assists while Derek Maltz (26g, 6a) and JoJo Marasco (12g, 17a) follow closely behind with 32 and 29 points each.
Orange Defense: The Orange have used three different netminders during the course of the season in Dominic Lamolinara, Matthew Lerman and Bobby Wardwell. Wardwell has been given the most recent starts and posts a 9.60 goals against average and a .500 save percentage. The trio have combined for a 9.64 GAA and .491 save percentage on the year. Their close defensemen, David Hamlin, Brandon Mullins and Steve Ianzito have combined for 49 ground balls and 27 caused turnovers this season. Junior defensemen Brian Megill has posted 50 ground balls and 32 caused turnovers and is a leader in the Orange backfield.
The Last Meeting (3/25/12): 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. Villanova junior attackman Jack Rice paced the `Nova offense with two goals and two assists while senior Kevin Cunningham added three assists on the day.