Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/14/09
From Press Releases
The Villanova men’s team will open its season today (1 p.m.) at Rutgers University.
The Wildcats return 13 seniors from a team that finished strong last year and will be competing in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) for the last year before moving into the new Big East Conference.
Villanova started 1-7 last year, but then won four of five games and gave Drexel all it could handle in the CAA semifinals before bowing, 10-7. Third-year coach Michael Corrado hopes his experienced group will be ready for the next step.
“We have experienced players at every position; these guys are prepared to make the last season in the CAA a memorable one,” he said.
This year’s attack will be led by seniors Chris MacDonald and Tim Driscoll. MacDonald a two-time All-CAA player, missed the entire 2008 season due to injury after being selected as a Pre-Season All American candidate and a member of the Tewaarton Watch list.
Driscoll, who was the Wildcats leading goal scorer in 2008 with 26 goals. “We have two seniors at the attack position that I think are going to be serious scoring threats,” Corrado said.
To round out the attack, Corrado has some solid depth. Junior Paul Webber, who led the team in points in 2008 with 19 goals and 11 assists, and sophomore Michael Brennan are two versatile athletes that can play both attack and midfield.
The midfield is led by a core of veteran players: seniors Matt Fritts, Tim Langan (10 goals) and Ryan Lewis. Top juniors are Mark Scioscia, Michael Arvan, and Kevin Kaval.
Sophomore Chris Aitken (Haverford School) was named to the CAA All-Rookie team and had three goals and three assists.
“Chris was an All-American attackman in high school and has made a very smooth transition to the college game,” Corrado said. “He is developing into an outstanding Division I midfielder.
At defensive midfield, seniors Dan Liva (Malvern Prep) and Tommy Nolan along with junior R.J. Lyons (Penn Charter) give this unit good size, speed and athleticism. All three played at the offensive and defensive ends of the field last year.
“Liva and Nolan are two of the best shooters we have on the team and at the same time play great defense,” Corrado said. “They will be everywhere this year. R.J. has all the tools to be one of the elite defensive midfielders in the country.”
Also in the mix for the defensive midfield are sophomores Peter DeMaggio, Andrew Henrich (La Salle) and T.J. O’Donnell. O’Donnell and freshman Nolan Vihlen will share the face-off duties this season and senior Greg Safran and sophomore Brian Karalunas are the two long stick midfielders.
Back to lead the defense are senior Eddie DiDonato (La Salle) and junior Bryan McCartney (Archbishop Wood). DiDonato, a four-year starter and two-time captain provides the Wildcats with a tough, physical leader.
“Eddie has been the backbone of our defense the last few years,” Corrado said. “Nobody plays harder that him and he demands no less from his teammates. I expect a great senior year from him.”
Other defense candidates are senior Jason Windmoeller, juniors Greg Boukas and Ross Reitz and sophomores Chris Ficke and Troy Higgins.
Senior Andrew DiLoreto enters his third season starting in goal for the Wildcats. His familiarity with the position is one of Villanova’s strengths that Corrado expects to be a difference maker in 2009.
Corrado expects the CAA to be competitive, but not too much for the Wildcats to handle.
“Our schedule is tough and I see us in a lot of close games this year,” Corrado said. “With a lot of new kids playing last year we took some lumps early but finished the season strong.”