VILLANOVA, PA. 4/21/2012 – The # 11 Villanova Wildcats stared strong, but the #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished strong winning 10 – 7 in Men’s Lacrosse in front of 5,807 excited fans at Villanova Stadium. It was the first loss for Villanova in the Big East. Notre Dame remains unbeaten in league play to claim sole possession of first place in the conference. Each team alternated with consecutive goals. Notre Dame had a longer run that Villanova Coach Mike Corrado made the difference in the game.
“It was a game of runs,” said Corrado. “We had a good start, but Notre Dame made a good run to start the second half. We made a run, but couldn’t quite get the next goal to make it 9 – 8 and ended up losing a hard-fought game. Give Notre Dame credit. The played well, did a nice job defensively, and took us out of what we do.”
The Wildcats started quickly as Junior attack Jack Rice scored the first goal of the game 1:03 into the game. It was the 27th goal of the season for Rice a team-best. Villanova followed up with goals from Junior midfielder Max Hart, Senior attack Kevin Cunningham, and Junior attack Nick Doherty to grab a 4 – 0 lead with 4:55 remaining to play in the first quarter.
The start created a positive buzz in the crowd and the team, but the fourth goal was the last one the Wildcats would score until for the next 39:13 when Senior attack C.J. Small connected at the 10:42 mark of the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Notre Dame put together a run of 8 consecutive goals. Attack man Sean Rogers scored 3 goals in the run. He has a team-high 16 goals for the Irish. In the turning point run Notre Dame midfielder Jim Murlatt assisted on 3 goals to give him a team leading 23 points. The Notre Dame defense held the high-powered Villanova offense in check.
“We got impatient and started to force things,” Corrado said. “We started to be not selective in our shooting. You can’t do that against Notre Dame. They play a unique style of defense. They jumped on us real quick. We couldn’t get that goal to stop them.”
The Small goal cut the deficit to 8 – 5, but the Irish answered just 26 seconds later as midfielder Tyler Kimball made the score 9 – 5. Sophomore defenseman Chris Piccirilli and Hart got back to back goals bringing Villanova to within 9 – 7 with 9:18 in the fourth quarter. However, the Wildcats would not score again. Notre Dame attack Westy Hopkins ended the scoring at the 1:21 mark.
“The offense started to play impatiently,” said Hart. “It’s hard to play defense when your offense isn’t clicking.”
Villanova drops to second place in the Big East. The regular season will end next Saturday at Providence. The Wildcats will most likely get the second seed on the tournament to be played at Villanova Stadium. The loss hurt, but could provide lessons the Wildcats can utilized in the post-season.
“Hopefully, we can take something from this, and I think we will,” said Rice. “We played awesome for the for the first four goals. We scored, but we let them right back in the game. We didn’t come out as ready as we should have been. That’s something we will remember down the line. It should help us out.”
Senior Day Notes
It was Senior Day at Villanova for the Men’s Lacrosse team. Prior to the game the following players were celebrated for their contributions to the Villanova program. The seniors are; Midfielder MAtt Bell, Midfielder C.J. Burke, Defenseman Chris Creighton, Attack Kevin Cunningham (drafted by the MLL Boston Cannons), Goal Keeper Dan Gutierrez, Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, Midfielder Joe Payne, Midfielder C.J. Small, Midfielder Michael Vigilante (team captain), and Midfielder Nolan Vihlen.
This senior class was one of the most successful in program history collecting a CAA Championship and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Villanova is a member of the Big East Conference, one of the premier leagues in the country. This class is the winningest in school history with a 40 – 26 record (.666) in their four-year careers.
Written By: Glenn Papazian