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Game preview: Villanova hosts Lehigh in key Philly men’s clash

Friday, 15th February 2013

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 2/15/13
From Press Release

Villanova hosts Lehigh Saturday at 1 p.m. in a men’s college game featuring two teams that went in somewhat opposite directions last year.

Villanova won last year’s game, 17-7, in Lehigh’s home opener. Since then, Lehigh has gone 13-2, which included its first ever Patriot League Tournament Title and NCAA Tournament appearance.

Senior David DiMaria led the Lehigh offense in last week’s 14-1 opening-game win over Saint Joseph’s with a career-high six goals and an assist. After more than 13 minutes of scoreless lacrosse, he scored at 1:48 of the first quarter then added his second just 1:01 later. That got Lehigh’s offense going as it scored three in the second quarter, five in the third and four more in the fourth for the dominating 14-1 victory.

Senior Dante Fantoni tied a career high with three assists while adding two goals. Sophomore Dan Taylor posted a career-high tying two goals and an assist as the starting attack accounted for 10 of the 14 goals.

The Lehigh defense was just as impressive, shutting out Saint Joseph’s for the first 33:27 before allowing its first (and only) goal. Sophomore Matt Poillon stopped eight-of-nine shots sent his way to earn Patriot League Goalie of the Week honors, already his seventh career weekly award. Junior All-American Ty Souders (Emmaus) anchored the defense which included several individual highlights. Sophomore long-stick midfielder Dylan O’Shaughnessy set career highs in both groundballs (3) and caused turnovers (2), senior short-stick D middie Noah Molnar had two groundballs and two caused turnovers while freshman Tripp Telesco started his first-career game at close defense, scooping three groundballs.

The 13-goal margin of victory marked Lehigh’s largest in a season opener since a 22-goal (25-3) win over VMI to begin 1997 DiMaria’s six goals were most by a single player in Kevin Cassese’s tenure as Lehigh head coach.

The Mountain Hawks have now won four straight season openers and five of their last six. With a win against Villanova Saturday, Lehigh would improve to 2-0 after two games for the first time since 2000 when it beat Air Force and Towson to begin the season. The Mountain Hawks are also eying their first win at Villanova since 1997, a 17-9 victory. Lehigh has dropped six straight at Villanova since. Lehigh has won eight of its last nine road games overall dating back to the beginning of last season.

Saturday marks Villanova’s season opener. The Wildcats began last season 3-0 with big wins over Lehigh, Bucknell and Drexel, but struggled from that point forward, going just 5-7 the rest of the way and falling shy of its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Prior to the start of the season, senior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md./Boy’s Latin) and juniors Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) and John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex Regional) were named to the 2013 All-BIG EAST Preaseason Team while the squad was picked to finish fourth in the league in the BIG EAST preseason polls.

Villanova returns 28 letterwinners from the 2012 squad and added a talented class of 12 newcomers who will push to make an immediate impact on the team. The Wildcats welcome back 58.3 percent of their scoring (91 of 156 goals) and 45.5 percent of the team’s assists (50 of 110 assists).

In their last appearance on the turf, the Wildcats concluded their 2012 slate in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship, falling 15-6 to Syracuse at Villanova Stadium. The Orange went on to win the inaugural BIG EAST Championship and earn the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

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