Villanova, Pa. -
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Facing Off: For the second time in six days the Villanova Wildcats will take on the Providence Friars this time in the BIG EAST semi-finals. The Friars will host the 2017 BIG EAST Tournament and the two teams will face off at 7 P.M. following game one that will feature Denver and Marquette.
Series History: The Wildcats are 6-3 all-time against the Friars, with the last win coming just last Saturday by a final of 15-7. Villanova won the meeting last year as well by a final of 14-7 in Villanova Stadium.
The Last Meeting: Four goals by Jack Curran and hat tricks by Jake Froccaro, Christian Cuccinello, and Connor Kirst lifted the Wildcats to a 15-7 victory over the Friars last weekend. Nick Testa had 10 saves and picked up his seventh win of the season. Danny Sweeney led the backfield with five ground balls and a caused turnover. For the Friars, only Keenan Assaraf scored more than one goal, he finished with two, but Providence did have success on the faceoff X. Colin Keating went 15-for-23 (.652) and had a game high seven ground balls.
A Look at Villanova: This is Villanova’s sixth trip to the BIG EAST Tournament, the Wildcats are the only team that has gone every year since the conference created the tournament in 2012. Villanova has earned the two seed in this year’s tournament after finishing 4-1 in BIG EAST play. After starting out 1-4 the Wildcats have gone 8-1 to finish the regular season.
Villanova’s Offense: Setting records seems to be the trend with this Wildcat offense this season. Currently the Wildcats are tied with the most goals scored in a single season as a team. Last season Villanova broke the single season record when they netted 190 goals; currently the team has the same amount. Jack Curran broke the single season goal scoring record set in 1991 by Christ Sullivan against St. John’s. The graduate student scored eight goals against the Red Storm, tying the single game record set by teammate Jake Froccaro. When he scored his final goal, he broke the 41 goal single season record; currently the captain has 46 goals on the season. Joining him on the attack line are juniors Danny Seibel and Christian Cuccinello. Cuccinello, who had seven points during the Wildcats 15-7 victory last weekend has 61 on the season. He has 31 goals and 30 assists on the season. Seibel has 32 points this season, scoring his most important goal in overtime against Maryland to give the Wildcats a win against a top 5 opponent. Jake Froccaro, John Kluh, and Devin McNamara make up the midfield line for the Wildcats, Froccaro is a Tewaaraton Award Nominee and has 46 points this season. McNamara has 26 points while Kluh has 15.
Villanova’s Defense: Setting records is also occurring on the backfield, Danny Sweeney is 10th all-time in caused turnover with 30. This season he has 21 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers. Joining the senior in the backfield are freshmen Patrick Kennedy and Zachary Kryza. Combined they have 23 ground balls and have caused 12 turnovers. A young backfield is sophomore goalkeeper Nick Testa, who has played over 827 minutes during his time in the blue and white. He took over as Villanova’s primary starter following the Maryland win and since has boasted an 8.63 goals against average and .553 save percentage. From the faceoff dot, Luke Palmadesso is 65-for-126 (.516) on the season with 21 ground balls. The junior missed a handful of games due to injury, during that time Jake Froccaro became the Wildcats primary FOG. On the season Froccaro is 71-for-136 (.522) with a team high 79 ground balls.
A Look at Providence: The Friars ended regular season with a 9-6 overall record and 3-2 in BIG EAST play. Providence has lost their last three games starting off with a double overtime loss to Brown, after it was Denver and the Wildcats that handed the Friars their only two conference losses.
Providence’s Offense: Sophomore’s Nick Hatzipetrakos and Brendan Kearns are atop the Friars point contributors. Hatzipetrakos has a team high 41 points on 22 goals and 19 assists while Kearns leads the team in goals scored with 28 and has 10 assists on the season for 38 points. Six other Providence players have contributed double digit points this season, three of them being underclassman. The young offensive line has scored 89 of the Friars 145 goals this season.
Providence’s Defense: The backfield is the strength for the Friars. Ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense, their 8.33 is the best in the conference. Senior defenseman Jimmy Cunningham has a team high 18 caused turnovers while goalkeeper Tate Boyce has 40 ground balls. Providence also leads the BIG EAST in caused turnovers per game averaging 7.27. Boyce, has the 8th best save percentage in the country averages .586 entering Saturday’s game. The sophomore has played over 826 minutes between the posts and has 7.99 goals against average. Both Alex George and Colin Keating have taken 85 faceoffs this season. George has won 52 while Keating 59, combined they have collected 64 ground balls and have an average win percentage of .579.