MLAX: ‘Cats lose early leads, drop games to Drexel, Delaware

Michael Zipf

Heading into its game against cross-town rival Drexel University, the men’s lacrosse team seemed unphased by the Dragons No. 16 national ranking and was determined to build upon last season’s 7-6 home victory. The Wildcats opened up the game’s scoring affair when senior Eric Heidenberger connected on a goal two minutes into the game. Villanova captured a 3-1 lead in the early moments of the first half after freshman Mark Scioscia recorded a pair of goals. Down 3-1, Drexel’s offense erupted for six unanswered goals, eliminating the deficit and building a 7-3 lead.

“We committed too many penalties, giving Drexel many one-man advantages, and they were able to capitalize on them,” sophomore defender Greg Safran said.

Rattled but not dazed by the Dragons offensive surge, the Wildcats responded by connecting on two late first-half goals to cut the deficit to two.

However, just as it appeared that Villanova was poised to produce a comeback, the Drexel defense stifled the Wildcat offensive attack. Drexel goaltender junior Bruce Bickford proved to be a stalwart behind the net, recording 16 saves and holding Villanova scoreless in the second half. Although the Wildcats were disappointed with their performance, there were a couple of bright spots from the game. Villanova managed to outshoot Drexel 39-26, won 16 of 20 faceoffs and collected 34 ground balls.

Looking to rebound from the loss against Drexel, the Wildcat offense came out strong against the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware, registering a season-high 18 goals. However, the Wildcats’ efforts fell short, as a late offensive surge from Delaware propelled them to a 19-18 victory. The defeat dropped the Wildcats’ record to 1-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association and 5-6 in overall play.

There were three lead changes in the first period of play before Villanova finally took control after Heidenberger notched his second goal of the game off a feed from fellow senior Mike Hass to give the Wildcats a 9-8 advantage. Scoiscia and junior Chris MacDonald added two more goals to extend the Wildcat lead to 11-8 in the early moments of the third period. Villanova’s offense continued to thrive, recording five more goals in the third period. With the Wildcats leading 16-11 and less than two minutes left in the third period, Villanova seemed poised to capture a key conference victory.

Then, Delaware senior Jordan Hall collected an unassisted goal toward the end of the third period, which sparked a three-goal scoring streak within a 30-second span to close the deficit to two. Delaware continued to apply offensive pressure, registering four more goals in the fourth period to narrowly surpass Villanova 19-18.

“It’s disappointing to lose like that,” Safran said. “I thought we played some of best lacrosse of the season on the offensive end. The offense was really clicking, but we were unable to close things out.”

Although the Wildcats were defeated, nine different players managed to register goals with MacDonald and Heidenberger recording hat tricks.

Villanova’s next conference game is schedule for Saturday at 1 p.m. when it will face Robert Morris University.