No. 19 men win over Sacred Heart; Women fall to Bucknell

Courtney Scrib

Week after week, the Villanova men’s lacrosse team has shown why their team is one of the top 20 lacrosse teams in the nation. Last Saturday proved no exception, as the Wildcats defeated Sacred Heart, 12-7, and improved to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in CAA conference action. Meanwhile, the women, despite giving a strong first half performance, were overpowered by Bucknell, 15-8.

“The same issues that have plagued us all year continue to be factors in our competitions,” women’s head coach Shannon O’Neil said.

The team now stands at 1-13 overall and is 0-5 against Patriot League competitors.

Bison Laura Nuss, who led her team with four goals and an assist, opened the scoring just 46 seconds into the game off an assist from Andrea Paraud.

Senior Katie Mannix quickly responded to tie the game for Villanova, but Bucknell scored the next three consecutive goals to give the Bison a 4-1 advantage. Once again, Villanova answered back on a tally from junior Steph Haas.

However, Bucknell added two more tallies to make it a 6-2 contest with 11:35 left in the half.

Determined not to let the Bison pull away, the Wildcats charged back into the game when Haas and sophomore Cindy Koza, who ended the game with two tallies and an assist, combined for three goals before intermission.

“We played a solid first half,” O’Neil said. “We came back from a deficit to come within one goal which shows our resilience.”

Still riding the momentum from the end of the first period, the Wildcats kept the game close in the second half before Bucknell exploded with a 7-0 run. The flurry began after Katie Edge scored off a pass from teammate Meredith Wright and was capped off by a goal from Amy Lee with 8:54 to play. By that point, Bucknell held a commanding 13-5 lead.

“In the second half, we had a huge breakdown,” O’Neil said. “We just couldn’t recover.”

Although the Wildcats were able to add three more tallies, it was not enough to overcome the Bison.

O’Neil believes that the team’s greatest weakness this season has been consistency and is already looking for ways to correct that problem for next season.

“One of our biggest struggles has been getting the team to compete for a full 60 minutes,” O’Neil said. “Consistency of play is something we would like to establish in the last few games of the season to take into next year.”

For the men’s team, however, this year’s season has been phenomenal. With the win over Sacred Heart, the Wildcats moved up one spot to No. 19 in the USILA rankings. In addition, sophomore attacker Brendan O’Donnell was recognized by the CAA as the men’s Lacrosse Co-Player of the Week for his performance in last Saturday’s game against Sacred Heart, in which he earned career bests in goals (4), assists (4) and points (8). He joins goalie Joseph Canuso and midfielder Matt Lucas as Player of the Week honorees.

“Everyone knew this game was a big game for us in the conference,” O’Donnell, who leads the Wildcats with 28 points and the CAA league with 18 assists, said. “It was really important for us to come out and play our best.”

Although the Pioneers were the first to get on the scoreboard, it did not take long for the Wildcats to answer.

Over the remainder of the first quarter, they rattled off five consecutive goals, including two man-up tallies by O’Donnell and senior David Cacciabeve. Their strong play extended into the second quarter and gave Villanova a commanding 8-2 lead by the end of the first half.

Throughout the rest of the game, the two teams traded goals as the Pioneers tried to make a comeback, but the Wildcats’ offense and defense continued to dominate. Over the final 15 minutes, the Wildcats tallied three more goals to secure the 12-7 win.

“Sacred Heart was a big game for us to win,” said goalkeeper Joseph Canuso, who had 10 saves for the day. “We played real well … and were able to carry the lead to a fairly easy victory.”

On Friday at 7 p.m. the women face Lafayette, the men return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. when Hofstra visits Villanova Stadium in the CAA regular season finale.

Whoever wins that game will clinch the second place spot in the CAA and host a playoff game.