Men’s lax win over Drexel; women suffer loss to Colgate

Courtney Scrib

In Villanova’s first CAA game of the season, the men’s lacrosse team once again dominated the field and the competition to cruise to an 8-4 victory over Drexel on March 27 at Villanova Stadium. It was the fifth straight win for the Wildcats. However, the women, who traveled to Colgate last Saturday, were not as lucky in their 15-4 loss to the Raiders.

“Our trip to New York did not produce the results we were looking for,” women’s head coach Shannon O’Neil said. “Colgate came out with more fire than we did.”

The Raiders (6-3) took control of the game from the start. Just 11 seconds into the first quarter, Katie McVeigh scored, only to follow with another goal 19 seconds later to give Colgate a 2-0 lead. After Kelly Winning, who led the Raiders in scoring with six goals, made the score 3-0, the Wildcats finally responded with their first tally of the game on an unassisted goal by freshman Becky Gardner. Gardner registered two goals for the day.

However, Colgate’s offense exploded with four consecutive goals, including two from Winning, to give the Raiders a 7-1 advantage. Before the end of the first half, Colgate scored five more times and extended its lead to 12-3.

“We had a few breakdowns on defense in the first half,” O’Neil said.

Despite improving defensively in the second half, Villanova (1-7) still struggled to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, Colgate added three more tallies to secure a 15-4 victory.

“We have been searching for a spark to ignite the talent on this team,” O’Neil said, “[but] we have yet to find it.”

The Wildcats have four Patriot League games remaining in the regular season until the postseason tournament begins.

“At the end of the day, if we get there,” O’Neil said, “this season will be a success.”

For the Villanova men, there is no disputing that their season has been successful so far. They stand at 7-1 overall and remain undefeated at home. Saturday’s win was also the seventh time this season that the Wildcats held their opponent to six goals or less.

“The defense had a very good game, as did the offense,” senior and twice-honored CAA Player of the Week Matt Starker said. “It was a complete [team] effort and it showed in our strong play and our win.”

The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead after Eric Heidenberger and Matt Starker scored a pair of goals in the first two minutes of play. Later in the first half senior David Cacciabeve, who contributed two goals for the day, found Brendan O’Donnell to extend the Wildcats’ lead. Senior Richie Kratz quickly followed with another tally off a feed from O’Donnell to make the score 4-0. Then, less than a minute into the second period, Scott MacMullan tallied his second goal of the season.

“The offense came out poised and patient,” Kratz said. “We controlled the ball for most of the first half and executed with all of our offense formations.”

Drexel (3-5) finally got on the scoreboard after Sean Moloney connected on an unassisted goal, but Villanova would add one more tally before ending the first half with a 6-1 advantage.

“We took a demanding lead at half,” Kratz said, “and never looked back from there.”

In addition to the outstanding effort of the offense, Villanova’s defense was just as solid and effective in creating turnovers and securing the win for the Wildcats. In the opening half, Villanova held the Dragons to just 10 shots.

“The offense came out and scored early and often, and then it became a defensive battle, which we won,” goalkeeper Joseph Canuso added. Canuso, who only had to make three saves during the first two quarters, totaled nine saves for the afternoon.

With two second-half goals from junior Marc Creegan, the Wildcats maintained their lead over the Dragons, who scored three fourth-quarter goals, and won the game 8-4.

“The game against Drexel was a great stepping stone for us,” Canuso said. “It was our first league game against a good opponent, and we were in control the whole game.”

Villanova’s men’s team resumes CAA action on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Towson, while the women look to rebound with a win over American University, who they will host at Villanova Stadium, at 1 p.m.