Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/3/13
By David A. Willauer
and Press Releases
Led by the five-goal performance of senior Jack Rice and three goals by Eric Gartner (Great Valley), host Villanova defeated Georgetown, 15-12, Thursday evening in the BIG EAST Semifinals in front of a crowd of 2,517.
The Wildcats (7-7) advance to the championship game and face No. 2 seeded Syracuse – a 9-3 winner over Notre Dame – on Saturday at Noon. The winner of that contest will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament slated to begin next week.
Saturday’s contest will also mark the first-ever appearance for Villanova in the BIG EAST Championship contest.
“It was tough today, but we did well on transition,” said Rice. “It worked well for our offense as we got our goals today.”
“We’re excited that we got the win well today to gave us an opportunity,” said villanova coach Michael Corrado. “We didn’t play great the whole game, but the guys did enough to give us a chance to play Syracuse in the championship game.”
Georgetown got a strong game from long stick midfielder/FO man Tyler Knarr (La Salle), who won 19 of 30 face-offs and grabbed nine groundballs.
Villanova held a 7-3 halftime lead, but the Hoyas came out firing in the opening minutes of the second half and tallied three straight goals in less than four minutes from Travis Comeau, Reilly O’Connor and Brian Casey.
The Wildcats found their rhythm at the 9:16 mark when Tim Mulrenan scored and began a four-goal run by Villanova in the closing minutes of the third quarter. Casertano found an open Rice on a man-up opportunity just over a minute later to increase the VU lead to 9-6 and Casertano notched his own score following a deceiving feint pass to put the `Cats up 10-6 in the closing seconds of the stanza.
In an exciting fourth quarter with plenty of back and forth action, the Wildcats and Hoyas (6-9) traded goals but Villanova never gave up the lead as the Hoyas tried to climb back into the contest. Following scores from Comeau and Zac Guy, the Hoyas closed the VU lead to three at 11-8 with 8:46 remaining in the contest, but Rice notched three of his five scores in the final 7:30 alongside a tally from Gartner to solidify the contest. Scores from GU’s Reilly O’Connor and Charles McCormick in the waning minutes gave the Hoyas hope, but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Villanova lead.
Defensively, Villanova was led by the four ground ball and four caused turnover performance of junior John LoCascio while classmate Thomas Croonquist tallied seven ground balls going 11-of-30 from the faceoff X for the night. Sophomore goalkeeper Reed Carlson made five saves in the victory while Georgetown’s Jake Haley tallied four in the defeat.
Corrado continued, “Our kids are confident. The last few years we have played some great ballgames against them. These guys have played them before and matched up well with them. Syracuse is playing great right now in all facets of the game. We will have to play better than we did tonight in order to beat them.”
Following his five-goal performance, Rice is now in sole possession of second place on Villanova’s all-time leading goal scorers list with 126 career goals. He is just two away from tying Chris Sullivan’s 128 scores and three away from being the most prolific goal scorer in Villanova lacrosse history. The contest also marked the 20th career hat trick for Rice, who’s scored at least four goals in Villanova’s past three games.