The Villanova Men’s Lacrosse team played right with #1 Syracuse at Villanova Stadium. The #7 Wildcats tied the game with 57 seconds left only to see the top-ranked Orange get the game-winner with seconds to play. Syracuse stayed unbeaten escaping with a 5 – 4 win. The deciding goal by JoJo Mancuso stunned the team and crowd that sensed an overtime period was on the way.
“You start to look at overtime with 57 seconds left, and to come up 6 seconds short, it goes from as high as you can get to as low as you can get,” said Villanova Senior captain Brian Karalunas on the quick turn of events. “It’s tough.”
The loss was not from a lack of effort. Villanova got the scoring started as Junior Attack C.J. Small scored his 11th goal of the season at the 12:11 mark. Villanova got an unassisted goal by Junior Midfielder Michael Vigilante, but Syracuse led 3 – 2 getting goals from Attack Stephen Keogh, Midfielder Kevin Drew, and Mancuso. Small netted his second goal of the game in the second quarter as the teams went into halftime tied at 3. There was no scoring in the 3rd quarter. In the fourth quarter Syracuse took the lead on a goal by Midfielder Jovan Miller with 10:24 to play.
Both teams kept the pressure on and the defense was physical. The Wildcats had three chances in the last two and a half minutes. Finally, Villanova broke through as Karalunas won a draw and got the ball to Junior Attack Kevin Cunningham who beat Syracuse Goalkeeper John Galloway sending the crowd into a frenzy. Could Villanova beat the number one team in the country? Miller got the ball, turned down-field and found Mancuso with a sharp pass. The shot got past Villanova Sophomore Goalkeeper Billy Hurley, and Syracuse got the win.
“We’re disappointed with the outcome, but proud of the way our guys played,” said Villanova Coach Michael Corrado. “We had a great opportunity st the end when we tied it at 4. We had been facing-off well, but they won the last face-off and got the last possession. They made a play at the end and pulled it out.”
Villanova out-shot Syracuse 30 – 25, and forced Galloway to make 11 Saves for his team. However, the Wildcats committed 23 turnovers compared to 19 for the Orange.
Mancuso scored two goals for Syracuse, Miller had a goal and an assist. Small netted tow goals for Villanova, and Vigilante had a goal and an assist. The goal by Cunningham was his 21st, and he leads the team with 34 points.
This was the first-ever men’s lacrosse matchup between two schools ranked in the top-10 to occur in Villanova Stadium. The chance for the upset was there, but 7 – 2 Villanova could not grab it. The Wildcats did show that they can compete with the top teams in the country. The Coach believes that the program is on the upswing.
“I think it shows that we have grown as a team,” said Corrado. Brian (Karalunas) was a freshman when we went to Syracuse and got beat there. I told the guys in the locker room after that game that our goal is to get to where we could compete with Syracuse. We thought that last year we narrowed the gap. Tonight, on our home field we did that.”
They did it in front of 6,289 enthusiastic fans.
“It was pretty cool to see people on the other side of the stadium,” said Cunningham.
Written By: Glenn Papazian