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Men’s lacrosse preview: No. 15 Villanova travels to No. 11 Princeton tonight for 7 p.m. contest

Tuesday, 15th March 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 3/15/11
From Press Releases

The No. 15 Villanova (5-1, 0-0) men’s lacrosse team concludes its mid-week schedule tonight when the Wildcats travel to Princeton, N.J. to take on the 11th-ranked Tigers in the Class of 1952 Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s contest will be only the third meeting in the all-time series between the two schools, with Princeton having the 2-0 advantage after winning both previous outings. The teams last met on March 29th, 1989 with Princeton taking home a 14-6 victory on VU’s home turf. The first meeting came just a year earlier on April 27th, 1988 in a 13-10 loss in Princeton, N.J.

Villanova This Season: The Wildcats enter tonight’s matchup with a 5-1 record after defeating No. 9 Penn in overtime, 9-8, in a battle for Philadelphia bragging rights. Villanova is currently riding a four-game win streak, including wins over two Top-20 teams in No. 16 Drexel and ninth-ranked Penn. They’ve also counted victories over Lehigh, Fairfield and Penn State. The lone loss of the season comes in a 10-8 defeat at Bucknell.

Villanova’s Last Outing: Sophomore keeper Billy Hurley made a huge save to give Villanova possession, while Will Casertano found Jack Rice for the overtime game-winner as Villanova upset Penn for the 9-8 win on Saturday afternoon. Junior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) added two goals and three assists in the victory while senior Brian Karalunas captured four ground balls and five caused turnovers on the defensive end.

‘Nova Offense: 11 different players have found the back of the net for Villanova, with Cunningham (16g, 10a), Will Casertano (8g, 8a) and Rice (12g, 2a) leading the attack. Cunningham currently ranks ninth in the NCAA averaging 4.25 points per contest and is 14th in the nation averaging 2.75 goals per game.

Junior Nolan Vihlen and freshman Thomas Croonquist have been phenomenal recently at face-offs, winning 20-29 and 11-14 attempts over the past two games, respectively. Combined, the duo averaged a .720 win percentage against Penn State and Penn.

Additionally, versus their opponents, the Wildcats average 11.17 goals per game compared to the 8.33 of their competition and claim a .687 shot on goal percentage over their competitors .590.

‘Nova Defense: Billy Hurley continues to be a mainstay in net through six games, totaling 358:32 minutes between the pipes. For the season, the sophomore has captured 52 saves and posts a .510 save percentage.

Senior Brian Karalunas has returned to the top of the NCAA in caused turnovers, leading the nation averaging 3.75 takeaways per contest. For the season, the long stick midfielder tallies 25 caused turnovers and 22 ground balls.

The starting trio at close defense: juniors Chris Creighton (Malvern Prep), Ryan McDonagh and senior Chris Ficke have combined for 32 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers through Villanova’s six games.

Princeton’s Last Outing:
In a game that was nearly a carbon-copy of its opener two weeks ago against Hofstra, Princeton started fast before falling to No. 10 North Carolina 9-5 in front of 2,740 on a chilly night at Class of 1952 Stadium. UNC outshot Princeton 39-29 and won nine of 15 face-offs, a number that was 9 for 13 in the first three quarters.

Princeton this Season:
Princeton, coached by former Drexel coach Chris Bates, has played only three games thus far on the season, opening against No. 7 Hofstra, No. 8 Johns Hopkins and No. 10 North Carolina before hosting Villanova on Tuesday. The Tigers dropped 11-9 and 9-5 decisions against Hofstra and UNC and picked up an 8-3 win over Hopkins on March 5th.

Tiger Offense: Tom Schreiber leads the team with 10 points via seven goals and three assists, while Forest Sonnenfeldt follows closely behind with six goals. Eight others have contributed points on the season.

The Tigers average 7.33 goals per game and post a .488 shot on goal percentage, compared to Villanova’s 11.17 goals per game and .687 shot on goal percentage. Princeton has gone 5-13 on man-up opportunities and has won only 19 of 52 face-offs, just over 36% of their attempts.

Tiger Defense: Arguably one of the best defenses in the country, Princeton returns Long Ellis, Chad Wiedmaier and Tyler Fiorito as the stars on the Tiger backfield. Fiorito has played all 180 minutes between the pipes and boasts a .623 save percentage and averages 7.67 goals allowed per game. On close defense, Ellis and Wiedmaier have combined for 10 ground balls and six caused turnovers through three games.

Last Time vs. Princeton (3/29/89): Princeton holds the 2-0 advantage in the all-time series with the last game occurring 22 years ago. Princeton and Villanova met in both the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

From the Villanova Archives (5/3/88): ”The Wildcat lacrosse team played perennial power Princeton on the road last Wednesday, and dropped a tough 13-10 decision to the Tigers in their final game of the 1988 campaign. Sophomore John McEvoy (former Wing and Malvern Prep coach) and freshman Chris Sullivan led the ‘Cats on the offensive end. McEvoy recorded two goals and two assists for four points, while Sullivan tallied three goals for three points in the contest. Sophomore Joe Lingle was sensational in the net with 21 saves in the game, while junior John Nugent led the ‘Cats with eight ground balls.”



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