May 12, 2011
VILLANOVA, Pa. - The Villanova Wildcats (11-4, 3-3) begin their 2011 postseason run this coming Sunday when they travel to Denver, Colo. to face the 4th-ranked Denver Pioneers (13-2) in the first round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament. Game time is scheduled for 3:15 MT/5:15 ET and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Villanova will be a part of history this coming weekend as the first team in NCAA tournament history to play a game west of the Mississippi. Despite earning their first at-large bid to the tournament, this is the second trip to the NCAA postseason for Villanova; the Wildcats previously fell to the University of Virginia in the first round of the 2009 postseason after winning the CAA title.
Sunday's contest will mark the seventh overall meeting between the Pioneers and Wildcats, with the series locked at 3-3 all-time. Denver claimed the last outing on March 3rd, 2007 in a 12-11 overtime victory; VU last won on May 4th, 2001, 9-4. In the latest RPI rankings released on May 8th, Villanova comes in at No. 9 while Denver claims the No. 6 spot.
Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter Saturday's contest with an 11-4 record after falling to Georgetown, 11-9, on May 7th.
Four of Villanova's 11 wins have come against opponents ranked at the time of their meetings: the Wildcats topped Drexel, 14-13, in a Philadelphia showdown, and also bested Penn, 9-8 in VU's lone overtime game of the season. Against Princeton, Villanova claimed their first-ever win against the Tigers, 10-9, in the Class of 1952 Stadium. VU also claimed a dominating 10-4 win over Delaware.
Villanova's Last Outing: Despite a fourth quarter, three-goal rally, the 10th-ranked Villanova Wildcats (11-4, 3-3) were defeated 11-9 by the Georgetown Hoyas (7-7, 4-2) on Saturday evening in Washington, D.C. Sophomore Will Casertano would lead the team with five points for the evening.
With eight minutes remaining in the final quarter, Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.), Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md.) and Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) gave Villanova a fighting chance when they notched three unanswered scores to get the `Cats to within one at 9-8, but it wouldn't be enough to solidify the victory.
'Nova Offense: Villanova features 13 players contributing on offense and is highlighted by the offensive scoring from the sophomore and junior classes. Combined, the second and third years tally 230 of 244 total team points. Additionally, versus their opponents, the Wildcats average 10.13 goals per game compared to the 8.00 of their competition and claim a .631 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .562.
Villanova also placed three offensive threats on the 2011 BIG EAST postseason teams: Kevin Cunningham and Jack Rice were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team while midfielder Matt Bell earned a nod to the All-BIG EAST Second Team.
'Nova Defense: Netminder Billy Hurley has been the staple between the pipes for the season, totaling over 895 minutes in cage while making 120 saves on the year.
The 2011 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year, LSM Brian Karalunas, continues to hold his spot atop the NCAA rankings in caused turnovers per game, averaging 4.53 takeaways per contest. For the season, Karalunas has 68 takeaways and 71 ground balls on the year. The starting trio at close defense: juniors Chris Creighton (All-BIG EAST Second Team), Ryan McDonagh, and senior Chris Ficke have combined for 95 ground balls and 37 caused turnovers through Villanova's 15 games.
Denver's Last Outing: No. 5 Denver held off a late rally by Fairfield to claim the inaugural ECAC Tournament championship with an 11-9 win at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium. The Pioneers, who also won the ECAC regular-season title, earned the league's automatic NCAA Tournament bid with the win and extended its winning streak to a program-record 10 wins.
ECAC Player of the Year Mark Matthews, sophomore Eric Law, senior Todd Baxter and junior Alex Demopoulos scored two goals each for Denver and Faus earned his 12th win of the season with 13 saves. Freshman Jeremy Noble, sophomore Hayden Schuette and tournament MVP Chase Carraro also scored, while Carraro dominated face-offs by winning 16-of-22 draws.
Denver this Season: Denver posts a 13-2 overall record after winning the ECAC regular season and tournament title. The Pioneers only losses come from Syracuse (13-7) on Feb. 20th and Notre Dame (10-9) on March 12th. Villanova and Denver shared four opponents over the course of the 2011 season in Manhattan, Fairfield, Syracuse and Notre Dame. Over Tierney's two year career at Denver, the Pioneers have amassed a 24-7 (.774) record.
Pioneer Offense: The Pioneers average 12.60 goals per game and surrender 8.09 goals per game defensively. Junior Mark Matthews leads the team with 62 points through 41 goals and 21 assists, while junior Alex Demopoulos, senior Todd Baxter and sophomore Cameron Flint follow closely behind with 53, 46 and 32 points, respectively.
Pioneer Defense: Freshman Jamie Faus has been the mainstay in net for Denver during the 2011 season, posting a 13-2 record while making 158 saves on the year. Faus also claims a .577 save percentage and 8.04 goals against average. The starters on close defense, junior Brendan DeBlois, sophomore Kyle Hercher and senior Jeff Brown have combined for 65 ground balls on the season.
Last Time vs. Denver (3/3/07): The Villanova men's lacrosse team came up short in its first game of the Pioneer Face-Off Classic in Denver, Colo. After 68 minutes of play, including two overtime periods, the Wildcats fell to the Pioneers by a final score of 12-11. With the score tied at 11, both teams battled out the last eight minutes of play with hopes of notching the game-winning goal. However, with Villanova not even registering a shot in either overtime period, Denver's Dillon Roy took advantage of his one shot of the game and put the Pioneer's ahead for good.