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Men’s game preview: Villanova hosts Penn State tonight in key PA contest

Tuesday, 8th March 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 3/8/11
From Press Releases

After a three-game away stand, the Villanova men’s lacrosse team (3-1, 0-0 BIG EAST) returns to Villanova Stadium tonight (7:00) evening to face Penn State (1-2, 0-0 CAA) in a heated Pennsylvania rivalry.

The Nittany Lions hold the 14-2 advantage in the all-time series, but the Wildcats secured their first-ever triumph in State College, Pa. last year in a convincing 11-7 win on March 9th, 2010.

Villanova This Season: VU enters Tuesday’s matchup with a 3-1 record after defeating Fairfield, 10-6, on Saturday. The lone loss of the season comes in a 10-8 defeat at Bucknell in the second game of the year. The Wildcats have rebounded nicely from the defeat with successes over No. 16 Drexel and Fairfield. Villanova opened the season with a 9-8 win over Lehigh.

Villanova’s Last Outing: Anchored by a hat trick from sophomore Jack Rice and a goal and two assists from classmate Will Casertano, nine players went on to contribute points to lead the Wildcats in a 10-6 victory over Fairfield. Junior Nolan Vihlen won 11 of 15 face-off attempts while sophomore keeper Billy Hurley tallied 13 saves on the day.

‘Nova Offense: 10 different players have found the back of the net for Villanova, with Kevin Cunningham (11g, 6a, 17pts), Casertano (5g, 5a, 10pts), Nick Doherty (3g, 6a, 9pts) and Matt Bell (6g, 2a, 8pts), leading the attack. Additionally, Max Hart, Michael Vigilante, Chris Aitken, CJ Burke, C.J. Small and Rice have all contributed points this season.

‘Nova Defense: Hurley has been the mainstay in net through four games, totaling all 240 minutes between the pipes. For the season, the sophomore has captured 36 saves and posts a .493 save percentage. Against Fairfield, Hurley made 13 stops – good for a .684 save percentage on the day.

Senior Brian Karalunas continues to be a dominate force for VU, tallying 15 caused turnovers and 12 ground balls on the season, while fellow classmate and co-captain T.J. O’Donnell has captured 10 ground balls as a short stick defensive midfielder.

The starting trio at close defense: juniors Chris Creighton (Malvern Prep), Ryan McDonagh and senior Chris Ficke have combined for 20 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers through Villanova’s four games.

Penn State’s Last Outing: Penn State fell to their second ranked opponent in as many games, dropping a tough 6-5 triple-overtime decision at home versus No. 12 Ohio State. Nittany Lion goaltender Austin Kaut (Springfield-Delco) was stellar in the loss, registering 16 saves, including three in overtime. Freshman attackman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown East) led the Penn State offense with two goals and one assist. The loss dropped the Nittany Lion’s to 1-2 on the season.

PSU this Season: Penn State has played three low-scoring games, averaging only 5.33 goals per contest compared to Villanova’s 10.25. They’ve struggled making the most of EMO’s, going 2-9 for only a .222 conversion percentage. However, the Nittany Lions have also played some of the toughest opponents in the nation after only three games, dropping a 6-2 decision to No. 3 Notre Dame and falling in triple-overtime to No. 12 Ohio State.

In the national standings, PSU’s face-off win percentage is third best in the NCAA at .742, while Kaut has the 8th best save percentage for goalkeepers, stopping nearly 66% of shots on goal.

Nittany Lion Offense: Junior Matt Mackrides (Malvern Prep) leads the team with six points via four goals and two assists, while Sturgis is closely behind with three goals and two assists of his own. Six other athletes have tallied points on the year

Nittany Lion Defense: In 188 minutes, including one triple-overtime affair, freshman Austin Kaut is credited with a 1-2 record in net for the Nittany Lions. The keeper has allowed 19 goals, posting a .683 save percentage and 6.04 goals against average for the season.

Nick Dolik and Danny Henneghan lead the team with 12 and 10 ground balls, respectively, while Dolik has taken every face-off for PSU. He’s credited with a .604 win percentage, capturing 29 of 48 attempts.

Last Time vs. PSU (3/9/10): In their first-ever win as a visiting team at Penn State, Villanova brought home an 11-7 victory in a twilight outing with Nittany Lions. Senior co-captain Mark Scioscia led the Wildcats with a two goal, two assist performance while Michael Vigilante, Jack Rice and Mike Brennan each added two scores apiece in the win.



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