May 8, 2014
By Frankie Kineavy
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Not many teams have seen the success and growth of their program in recent years like Villanova Men's Lacrosse. The Wildcats have established themselves as one of the nation's premiere lacrosse programs and in the past five years have been crowned Colonial Athletic Association champions, earned their first two NCAA tournament bids and transitioned into the BIG EAST where they consistently play one of the toughest schedules in the country. This year, to accompany the program's on-field success, senior long-stick midfielder John LoCascio has been nominated for the Senior CLASS Award.
The Senior CLASS Award was established in 2002 after legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg suggested an award be given annually to a senior basketball player who exemplified what it meant to be a true student-athlete. Since then, the award has evolved into an honor given to a senior student-athlete in 10 sports. The four areas the award honors are community, classroom, character, and competition. It seeks to reinforce the values of scholarship and getting the most out of the entire college experience.
"The award means a lot to me on a personal level because I definitely have worked hard over the past four years and it's great to be nominated alongside other great student-athletes," says LoCascio, the Fairfield, N.J. resident who tallied 29 points in his career. "I'm very proud to be representing Villanova and hope to be the school's second winner."
LoCascio attributes his ability to manage a high level of success on the field and in the classroom to his former Wildcat teammate Brian Karalunas who served as a mentor to him when LoCascio was a freshman. Along with Karalunas, head coach Mike Corrado and the men's lacrosse support staff have worked hand-in-hand with the seniors and his teammates to ensure they reach their full potential both on and off the field. In fact, Corrado altered practice times so team members could take classes that would help them later in their careers. Even with this assistance, it is often a balancing act for LoCascio and his teammates to fulfill all of their requirements.
On the field, the 2014 Wildcats started with one of the toughest schedules in the nation. This included eight dates against the top-20 in the national rankings and five games that went into overtime. The season came with a flurry of nail-biting finishes and one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation, but the squad earned a bid into the BIG EAST Tournament on April 12th following a decisive 15-11 win over Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J.
Needing to win the conference championship to earn a berth into the NCAA tournament, Villanova defeated Marquette 9-6 in the semifinal but LoCascio's career came to an end when the Wildcats fell to the No. 2-ranked Denver Pioneers, 14-7, in the championship game for the second-straight year.
LoCascio finishes his Wildcat career as one of the most decorated Villanova players in program history and ranks second all-time at Villanova with 123 career caused turnovers and 5th all-time with 241 ground balls. Since arriving on campus in 2010, LoCascio and his classmates have helped usher in a new era in Wildcats Lacrosse. The program is now considered one of the most respected in the nation.
"It's been a really special four years here at Villanova and I'm happy to be a part of the first team to receive an at-large NCAA tournament bid in 2010. The credit goes to that senior class (Class of 2011), who had a ton of success," reflected LoCasio as he looked back at his time at Villanova. "They gave my class a mindset that winning is expected."
LoCascio is set to graduate next week with his degree in Finance and a minor in Economics from the Villanova School of Business. Upon graduation he will move to New York City where he will work for Bank of America Merrill Lynch on the Foreign Exchange Sales desk. He will also continue his lacrosse career with the Rochester Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse this summer.