Villanova’s men’s lacrosse team (4-4, 2-0 CAA) recorded their second consecutive conference victory with a 7-6 win over Drexel University (4-3, 1-1 CAA) on Saturday. The victory placed the Wildcats in a prime position to qualify for their conference tournament to which only the top four teams earn invitations.
“The victory was so big for our team and our conference tournament hope,” senior midfielder Matt Starker said. “Being 2-0 in the league and having the head-to-head advantage over Drexel is huge for us.”
The game featured intense and action-packed play, with each team constantly battling to gain an advantage. Drexel’s Mike Flippone started the scoring action with an unassisted goal to give Drexel a 1-0 lead, which would prove to be its only lead of the game.
Starker quickly responded for the Wildcats, connecting on a goal with assists from junior defenseman Paul Genovese and junior midfielder Andy German. German continued to pace the Wildcat offensive attack, scoring an unassisted goal to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. With 6:13 left in the second quarter, Starker struck again, burying a shot from 15 yards out with an assist from German to increase the Wildcats’ lead to 3-1.
However, the Dragons’ Yoni Cohen would momentarily silence the Wildcats’ attack by recording Drexel’s second goal of the game off an assist from Matt Musci. Villanova junior face-off specialist Chris Collinates would regain momentum for the Wildcats by scoring his first career goal to give `Nova a 4-2 lead just six seconds after Cohen’s goal.
Matt Starker continued his stellar performance by notching his third goal of the game off an assist from junior Eric Heidenberg to give Villanova a 5-3 lead. Unfortunately, the Wildcats were unable to sustain this lead. Jeff Prefer and Musci each posted unassisted goals to tie the game at 5-5 heading into the start of the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats opened up the fourth quarter with a scoring barrage, connecting on back-to-back goals by Chris Mercer and Matt Panneton to extend their lead to 7-5. Although Drexel would cut the lead to 7-6 with a goal by Adam Dennis, senior co-captain, goalie Joe Canuso would help preserve the Wildcats’ slim lead. Canuso had a stellar game for the `Cats making 17 saves on 30 shots. None of those saves would prove to be bigger than the stops he made on the Dragons’ two consecutive breakaway chances.
“When the score was 7-6 late in the 4th quarter, and Joe made a string of two consecutive one-on-one saves, it was extremely critical and really helped us preserve this important conference win,” Starker said.
Overall, the team was extremely pleased with their performance, especially on the defensive end where ‘Nova was able to kill off both of Drexel’s man-up advantages. As the team prepares for conference opponent Sacred Heart, it looks to build upon its victory over Drexel and inch closer to qualifying for its conference tournament.