Wildcats down English National Team

Stephen Buszka

The men’s lacrosse team welcomed the English National Team on Tuesday for a preseason exhibition match up. It proved to be very one-sided. Playing under international rules for the first time, the Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game and never looked back, en route to a 13-2 victory.

The English National team hoped to benefit from this trip, one that had been in the works for almost two years. They arrived in the United States earlier this week and Villanova was one of six games they had scheduled over a span of seven days. They played three games in the Philadelphia area and three games in the Baltimore area. Between scrimmages they trained alongside perennial powerhouse John Hopkins.

The English National team intended to use this visit to the East Coast as preparation for the World Games which will be held in Toronto, Canada later this year, where they will face fierce competition from around the world. It seems that they need a bit more work as they were outplayed on both ends of the field by Villanova.

After being down 2-0 just two minutes into the game, the English National team responded with a goal three minutes later to close the gap to 2-1, but ‘Nova followed up with eleven unanswered goals. Head coach Randy Marks was pleased with his offense saying, “Offensively we were very patient. We waited for good opportunities and good shots.” This strategy worked well. ‘Nova scored 13 times and would have had 14 had the goal not been rescinded due to a violation.

Not to be outdone by the offense, the Wildcats’ defense proved to be just as dominant. They held the English team to just one goal in each half. England’s offense never really proved to be much of a threat. There were several moments in the game when the ‘Cats were down several players due to penalties, yet England still failed to score. The play of the goalies was particularly good.

“We were pleased with all our goalies, particularly Joe Canuso who’s been an outstanding goalie and senior captain,” commented Marks. He was just as pleased with the team defense adding that only surrendering two goals in a game is something he is very pleased with. The second goal was let up with six minutes left in a game that was far out of England’s reach.Overall the game was a great learning experience, Marks believes.

“It was a lot of fun. There are not a lot of chances where you can play an international team. It gave us an extra scrimmage this fall. We have a lot of young players that could use the extra scrimmage and some experience that will be valuable come our regular season.” He later summed the night up adding, “It was a great event and a great opportunity for our team.”

The game culminated three weeks of scrimmages and conditioning and served as a good warm-up for the upcoming season, a warm-up that will certainly be needed.

The team is slated to face six teams that finished in the top 20 last year including National Champion runner-up Duke and 10th-ranked rival Towson. They have one more scrimmage in February before opening up their regular season at home on Feb. 18 against Air Force.

The team sported two new captains on Tuesday night, junior defenseman Connor Dwyer and senior defenseman Ben Remmey, who were named by Marks last Monday. They will work alongside incumbent captains, senior goalie Joe Canuso and senior midfielder Matt Starker, to provide valuable leadership to a Wildcats team that is returning 30 players. Marks is especially optimistic about the upcoming season following Tuesday’s solid vicotry.

“I’m just pleased with this team as a whole. They’re very unselfish. They can be very talented.”