By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/24/11
It will be a special night Saturday when a crowd of at least 3,000 is expected for the BIG EAST men’s lacrosse showdown between host Villanova and the nation’s top-ranked team, mighty Syracuse.
These are good times for Villanova’s lacrosse program. The team is 7-1 and sporting a six-game winning streak and has reached its highest national rankings (No. 7) ever.
With the Orange coming to the Main Line for the first time in 20 years, Wildcats coach Michael Corrado and his staff deserve remarkable credit for building a program that only had the means to give scholarships in the past few years.
Look at the team ahead of Villanova in the national rankings – Syracuse, Virginia, Notre Dame, Duke, Maryland and North Carolina. They are all established programs with major budgets.
The game Saturday is not without much intrigue. Syracuse sports a senior All-American in John Lade, who transferred from Villanova after a strong freshman year.
Saturday’s contest will also feature the highly anticipated matchup of the two best long-stick midfielders in nation as Brian Karalunas (this week’s Phillylacrosse.com Scholar-Athlete of the Week) and Joel White set the stage for this critical conference showdown.
Karalunas, a graduate of high school power Jamesville-DeWitt, is from the Syracuse area and is itching to show what the Orange have missed.
It’s been an exciting start to the lacrosse season in the Philly area. Besides Villanova, coach Mike Murphy has Penn in the running for an Ivy League title and in the national rankings. Veteran coach Bob Shillinglaw and his Delaware Blue Hens knocked off highly-ranked Hofstra last week and should again be a major contender in the Colonial Athletic Association, along with Brian Voelker’s Drexel Dragons and incredibly-improved Penn State under first-year coach Dave Tambroni.
And in the Patriot League, coach Kevin Cassese has moved a youthful Lehigh squad to a position of legitimate contender maybe a year earlier than many expected.
Philly freshmen are also making huge impacts in the Division I college scene. Duke attackman Jordan Wolf (Lower Merion) and Penn State goalie Austin Kaut (Springfield-Delco) were listed as the No. 2 and No. 3 freshmen so far this year by Inside Lacrosse and have been the focal points on their teams this season.
Other freshmen – such as Lafayette goalie Andrijko Andrusko (Holy Ghost Prep), Penn State attackman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown East), Dartmouth short-stick middie Patrick Resch (La Salle), North Carolina midfielder Ryan Creighton (Malvern Prep), Notre Dame face-off specialist Liam O’Connor (Haverford School), Irish teammate and attackman Westy Hopkins (La Salle), Bucknell LSM Jackson Place (Episcopal Academy) and Maryland red-shirt goalie Niko Amato (La Salle) have also made huge impacts on their teams.
And even others such as St. John’s defenseman Joe Addona (Springfield-Delco), Lehigh defenseman Ty Souders (Emmaus), Robert Morris LSM Tyler Rankel (Downingtown West), Ohio State face-off specialist Shawn Kaplan (Plymouth Whitemarsh), Vermont midfielder Ahmad Zachary (Lower Merion), and Hartford midfielder Tate Klidonas (Emmaus) also have shown that Philly’s top players stack up with those from anywhere.
But for this weekend, the focus is on the Main Line.
STX will be on hand Saturday with giveaways and equipment demonstrations and Villanova will host a free Kidzone (weather permitting) from 5:30-7pm in the rear Pavilion parking lot filled with inflatables and activities for both children and adults.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth (12 and under). The Villanova Athletic Department recommends purchasing tickets in advance for the game to avoid lines on Saturday as more than 3,000 fans are expected.
The link for more information can be found here: http://www.villanova.com/tickets/m-lacros-tickets.html