VILLANOVA , PA 4/4/2014 – The Villanova Wildcats men’s lacrosse team rallied from a two-goal deficit in the last 4:37 of regulation to send the game into overtime. In the extra period the #6 Denver Pioneers controlled the ball and scored the game-winner on an unassisted goal by midfielder Jeremy Noble to earn a 9 – 8 overtime win at Villanova Stadium.
“We’re a good team, but it’s still a loss, and it’s a league loss which makes it worse,” said Villanova Coach Mike Corrado.
Coming into the game Villanova faced a high-powered Denver offense that averaged over 13 goals per game. The Wildcats would have to rely on their defense and control the ball. The Blue and
White started quickly scoring the first two goals of the game by senior attack Kevin O’Neil and junior midfielder Eric Gartner. Turnovers and penalties hurt Villanova for the remainder of the first half as Denver scored the five goals, four of them with man-advantage scores to take a 5 – 2 halftime lead. Midfielders Erik Adamson and Tyler Pace scored two goals apiece in that stretch.
In the third period the play became more even strength. The teams traded goals in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Adamson recorded his fourth hat trick of the season to give Denver a 6 – 3 lead. The Wildcats started their comeback scoring three straight to tie the game at 6 on a Gartner’s 12th goal of the season with 5:19 remaining in the period.
After the Pioneers posted two more scores the Wildcats got a proximity goal by sophomore attack Tim Mulrenan, his tenth, on a man advantage with just over four and a half minutes on the clock. The hosts tied the game with 1:59 remaining when senior midfielder Mark Jackson scored his first goal of the season. Villanova had a last shot in regulation. The ball found the net, but it was after the clock ran out.
In the overtime Denver won the faceoff, then controlled the ball after the teams turned the ball over. Nobel ended the contest with a goal with 39 seconds showing on the clock.
“They got the faceoff, we got a stop, then they turned us over,” said Corrado. “We ended up almost the entire time playing on defense. It’s hard, they’re good, playing almost three and a half minutes of defense. They got one at the end.”
In the second the Wildcats outshot the Pioneers by a 28 – 8 margin. Villanova freshman goal keeper Dan Willis faced 24 Denver shots making 12 saves. The Blue and White kept pressuring the Pioneer net minder Jamie Faus in the second half forcing him to make 8 saves. The Wildcats had great opportunities late in the third quarter and early in the fourth getting off 14 shots, but could not get one into the net. For the game Villanova out-shot Denver 38 – 24.
“We shot 8 for 38, that’s not very good,” Corrado. “We shot better in the previous three games and ended up with wins. Against a really good team line Denver you have to shoot better than that.”
Leading scorer O’Neil scored two goals and had an assist for Villanova giving him 18 goals and 24 points on the season. Gartner registered two goals. Sophomore midfielder Jack Curran and senior defenseman Chris Piccirilli also had goals for the Wildcats.
Pace also had a hat trick for the Pioneers. Attack Wesley Berg put two into the net. Attack Jack Bobzien was credited with 3 assists giving him a team-best 40 points.
Denver improves their record to 9 – 3 winning six straight, and stay undefeated in Big East play at 3 – 0. Villanova is 4 – 6 overall and fall to 2 – 1 in conference.
The Wildcats embark on a three-game road trip at Rutgers, St. John’s, and Johns Hopkins.
Written By: Glenn Papazian