Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/15/11
From Press Releases
In the first NCAA Tournament game to be played west of the Mississippi, the Villanova Wildcats (11-5) fell in their second-ever postseason appearance, 13-10, to the 6th-seeded Denver Pioneers (14-2).
The sold-out crowd of 2,575 at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium was the largest in Denver Lacrosse history.
In a game that included seven ties and was locked 10-10 going into the fourth quarter, it marked the first postseason win for the Denver Pioneers in program history. They’ll go on to face Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament next weekend at Hofstra University.
For the contest, Denver’s Jeremy Noble led all scorers with a career-high four goals and two assists. Villanova’s Kevin Cunningham tallied four points while sophomore goalkeeper Billy Hurley posted 10 saves in the defeat.
The first quarter provided plenty of action for both sides and favored Villanova in the opening minutes. Junior CJ Burke scored his sixth goal of the season of a Cunningham assist at the 12:21 mark to begin the game. Just six second later, freshman Thomas Croonquist took a fast break to goal off the faceoff and found Cunningham for the score, putting Villanova ahead 2-0 with 12:15 remaining in the quarter.
The Pioneers found themselves on the board at the 10:19 and 8:43 marks with scores from Alex Demopoulos and Eric Law, tying the game at 2-2.
Nearly four minutes would pass before VU’s C.J. Small gave the Wildcats the lead at 3-2, but the Pioneers responded with a pair of scores from Jeremy Noble and Paul Danko to take their first lead of the game at 4-3. With four seconds remaining on the clock, VU sophomore Jack Rice notched his 33rd goal of the season to tie the game at 4-4 to end the quarter.
The second stanza would slow considerably, with both teams taking optimal time on each offensive possession. The Pioneers took the lead at the 5:56 mark from a Noble score, but it wouldn’t stop the Wildcats from making a three-goal run to end the half.
Senior Andrew Henrich (La Salle) began the rally at the 4:42 mark while Will Casertano followed suit just two minutes later to make it 6-5 in favor of VU. Rounding out the quarter, sophomore Max Hart tallied his 11th goal of the season with 13 seconds on the clock to give Villanova a 7-5 lead going into the locker room.
At the half, Villanova led Denver in shots (20-11) and face-offs (8-14), while both teams were even with ground balls (12-12) and saves (4-4) after the first 30 minutes of play.
Casertano opened the second half at the 13:03 mark to give VU a 8-5 lead, but the Pioneers began a three-goal rally just over a minute later. Mark Matthews, Jeremy Noble and Cameron Flint all found the back of the cage within 90 seconds to tie the game at 8-8, marking the fifth tied score of the contest.
Junior midfielder Matt Bell gave Villanova back the lead with 8:46 remaining in the quarter, but a pair of Denver goals from Matthews and Flint would put the Pioneers up 10-9 with 7:18 remaining. VU’s Rice would once again round out the quarter with 6:12 left on the clock, tying the game once again at 10-10.
With the final 15 left to play, Denver took the lead with 11:55 remaining and never looked back after posting three unanswered scores from Matthews, Noble and Demopoulos to secure the contest at 13-10 in favor of the Pioneers.
Defensively, DU’s Jamie Faus collected 13 saves in the victory, including six stops in the final quarter. Villanova led the game in ground balls (28-24) while Denver topped the Wildcats in shots (41-37) and extra man opportunities, converting on two of eight attempts.
Villanova concludes the 2011 season with an overall record of 11-5 and making the second postseason appearance in program history. The 2011 season is just the third year since 1982 where Villanova has posted 11 victories. Senior LSM Brian Karalunas concludes his college career as the all-time leader in Villanova history with 153 caused turnovers.