The men’s lacrosse team rallied in the fourth quarter to pick up its first-ever vicotory in the newly-formed Big East conference on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9-8 at Villanova Stadium. It was the team’s ninth consecutive victory at home their first win over the Fighting Irish since 1992.
The Wildcats were able to emerge victorious thanks to a furious fourth quarter rally that delighted the season-high 1,293 fans in attendance. After finding themselves mired in an 8-5 deficit, the ‘Cats scored four unanswered goals to steal the victory in the closing minutes.
Top scorers for the Wildcats included sophomore Kevin Cunningham with three goals and an assist and seniors Paul Webber and Mark Scioscia with two goals apiece.
The game got off to a slow start, with only eight of the game’s 17 goals being scored in the first three quarters. Notre Dame’s Grant Krebs notched the first point of the contest just 2:10 into the game, but the Wildcats responded by scoring the next four goals to take a 4-1 lead.
Along with Cunningham and Scioscia, first-half goals were recorded by freshman Jack Rice and sophomore Matt Bell. A second ND goal with 4:11 remaining in the half left the game a close contest going into the intermission, 4-2.
After a Notre Dame goal by Steve Murphy, Cunningham gave the ‘Cats a 5-3 lead heading into the final frame. That two-goal lead would hardly prove to be enough, as the fourth quarter evolved into a battle of scoring runs, and the ‘Cats were fortunate enough to find themselves on the winning side.
The Fighting Irish scored a remarkable five unanswered goals in the first eight minutes of the quarter, shocking the Villanova players and fans as they raced out to an 8-5 lead. But after a Villanova timeout, the ‘Cats came out firing on all cylinders. Cunningham scored his third goal immediately following the timeout, and Scioscia scored his second just 36 seconds later.
With the ‘Cats on the verge of an improbable victory-turned-defeat-turned comeback victory, Webber proved why he is one of the team’s most dangerous offensive weapons with two goals, his ninth and 10th of the season. The 9-8 margin would hold for the final five minutes, and the ‘Cats were able to claim their first conference win as members of the Big East.
After the game, junior Brian Karalunas talked about how the team was able to pick up the win and what the win means for the Wildcats as they continue the rest of their inaugural season.
“[Head Coach Michael Corrado] always talks about how it’s a game of runs,” Karalunas said. “In the fourth [quarter] we knew we couldn’t break, so we just kept running; we weathered the storm. The final 15 minutes really showed that we have the grit to compete with anyone.”
Freshman goalie Billy Hurley was credited with the win and recorded nine saves. It is Hurley’s third victory of the season.
The ‘Cats will venture out of the Big East Conference for their next game when they take on the Manhattan Jaspers on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Bronx, N.Y.