Wildcats victorious in first conference game

Michael Zipf

The Villanova men’s lacrosse team captured its third victory of the season on March 18 with an 11-8 victory over Robert Morris. The team was pleased with its performance, as the Wildcats broke their two-game losing steak and recorded an important victory in their first regular season conference game.

“Robert Morris was our first CAA game and we started the conference out on the right foot with a big win,” senior midfielder Matt Starker stated.

Starker and several other players attributed their win to the team’s effectiveness on face-offs, which allowed the Wildcats to generate numerous scoring chances and maintain possession of the ball throughout most of the game.

Junior midfielder Chris Collinates was extremely effective for the Wildcats winning 19 of 22 face-offs with a career high 18 groundballs. With the Wildcats executing effectively during the early portion of the game, they were able to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

Junior attacker Chris Mercer scored first for the Wildcats off an assist from freshman Tim Langan Jr. at the 10-minute mark in the first quarter. After Robert Morris’s Truett Valentine knotted the game at one, the ‘Cats quickly responded, reeling off four straight goals. Starker and Langan Jr. each connected for one goal a piece, and sophomore Chris MacDonald provided two goals to give the Wildcats a 5-1 lead at the end of the second quarter.

However, Robert Morris would mount a strong comeback, surging to within one goal of ‘Nova at the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately, this has been a trend for the Wildcats, allowing teams to remain in the game after taking commanding halftime leads. In games against the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Binghamton, the Wildcats held 4-2 and 5-1 leads respectively only to squander their leads in the second half. However, in this game, the ‘Cats were determined to maintain their lead and connected on five goals in the fourth quarter.

Starker led the way for the Wildcats, finding the back of the net two consecutive times at the 2:15 and 2:27 marks of the fourth quarter. Langan Jr. and Starker clinched the game for ‘Nova after connecting on two more goals to give `Nova an 11-8 victory. Starker’s last goal gave him a career-high five goals on the day.

When asked why he was so effective in the game, Starker said, “It was mostly being in the right place at the right time. My teammates and I, and more specifically my line mates, just have a feel for where we are at all times on the field and this was just a fortunate day in which my shots were falling.”

Starker’s remarkable performance, combined with several other strong individual performances, allowed Villanova to play a very sound game. The Wildcats dominated Robert Morris in nearly all facets of the game out shooting the Colonials 37-21 and collecting a 43-17 advantage in groundballs.

This weekend the Wildcats will travel to Drexel University for their second conference game against their cross-town rival Drexel. As the team prepares for this intense and important match-up, they are concentrating on putting together a full 60-minute effort. With the victory, the Wildcats would post a 2-0 record in conference play, placing them in a very good situation to qualify for the conference tournament. Overall, the team looks to build upon their performance against Robert Morris and fulfill their season goals of winning the conference and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.