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Men’s lacrosse preview: Villanova hosts Penn in key Philly matchup

Saturday, 12th March 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 3/12/11
From Press Releases

No. 20 Villanova (4-1, 0-0) plays host to Philadelphia rival and ninth-ranked Penn (3-1, 0-0) today (1:00) at Villanova Stadium in a key matchup of Philly teams with ideas of post-season play this year.

The Quakers hold a 15-6 advantage in the all-time series, claiming the last outing on March 13th, 2010, 8-7 on Franklin Field. The Wildcats were last victorious in a 14-7 decision on February 28th, 2009 at Villanova Stadium.

Villanova This Season: VU enters the matchup with a 4-1 record after defeating Penn State 17-5 on Tuesday evening. The win matches Villanova’s highest scoring differential dating back to April 6th, 2002 in an 18-6 victory over Lafayette.

The Wildcats are on an impressive three-game win streak after claiming victories over No. 16 Drexel, Fairfield and Penn State. They began the season with a 9-8 win over Lehigh before falling at Bucknell, 10-8.

Villanova’s Last Outing: Villanova took a 6-0 lead and never looked back as the Wildcats went on to rout Penn State 17-5 at Villanova Stadium on Tuesday evening. C.J. Small tallied a career-high four goals while Kevin Cunningham and Michael Vigilante each contributed four points on the evening.

‘Nova Offense: 12 different players have found the back of the net for Villanova, with Kevin Cunningham (14g, 7a), Will Casertano (7g, 6a) and Matt Bell (8g, 3a) leading the attack.

Versus their opponents, the Wildcats average 11.60 goals per game compared to the 8.40 of their competition and claim a .695 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .597. Additionally, the sophomore and junior classes account for 97% of total team points on the season, with the sophomores contributing 43% of points and juniors accounting for 54% of total team production.

‘Nova Defense: Billy Hurley continues mainstay in net through five games, totaling 296:17 minutes between the pipes. For the season, the sophomore has captured 44 saves and posts a .512 save percentage.

Senior Brian Karalunas returned to his spot atop the NCAA national rankings earlier this week, averaging 3.75 takeaways per contest. For the season, the long stick midfielder tallies 20 caused turnovers and 18 ground balls.

The starting trio at close defense: juniors Chris Creighton (Malvern Prep), Ryan McDonagh and senior Chris Ficke have combined for 26 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers through Villanova’s five games.

Penn’s Last Outing: Ninth-ranked Penn went on the road for the first time this season to Chapel Hill, N.C. and lost a 12-6 decision to No. 15 North Carolina. Penn goalie Brian Feeney made 10 saves while the Quakers were outshot by UNC, 33-21.

Penn this Season: Penn has kept three out of their four games in the single digits, averaging only 7.00 goals per contest compared to Villanova’s 11.60. The Quakers also struggled at the face-off specialty, winning only 46% of their attempts from the X. However, the Quakers began the season on a strong note after defeating Duke, the reigning NCAA National Champs, 7-3 at Franklin Field. They’ve since gone undefeated at home, winning 8-6 over Bucknell and 7-6 over Lafayette.

Quaker Offense: Junior Al Kohart leads the team with 10 points via eight goals and two assists, while John Conneely follows closely behind with five goals and two assists. The balanced Penn attack features 10 other point scorers on the season.

Quaker Defense: In 240 minutes, Brian Feeney is credited with a 3-1 record and ranks third in the national standings allowing on average only five goals per contest prior to the UNC loss. For the season he’s made 29 saves and allowed 27 goals.

Defenseman Will Koshansky has tallied 10 ground balls for the season while Danny Feeney has been tabbed as Penn’s leading face-off specialist, winning 31 of 67 attempts and grabbing 21 ground balls in the process.

Last Time vs. Penn (3/13/10): Villanova’s Jack Rice had two goals and Kevin Cunningham added one goal and one assist to lead the Wildcats, but it wasn’t enough to secure the victory at Franklin Field where VU was defeated by Penn, 8-7.

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