Men’s Lacrosse Ranked 19th in Preseason Poll


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Patrick Kennedy, a Preseason All-American, will lead the Wildcats this season.

Anders Pryor, Staff Writer

The Villanova men’s lacrosse team is ranked number 19 in the nation. There are a slew of familiar names around them in the rankings. At number 22 is Rutgers, with Penn at 21 and Princeton at 20. Villanova comes in at 19, and the three teams directly above them are Richmond at 18, Lehigh at 17 and Army at 16.

The program has been on the rise in recent years, averaging nine victories a season over the past four years. 

In a season as unorthodox as this, any win will be hard to come by, as the Wildcats will have a tough non-conference schedule, including Lehigh on several occasions, as well as tough familiar Big East opponents in Denver, Georgetown and Providence. The team has had very notable non-conference victories in their recent stint, including Maryland in 2017 and 2020, and Yale in 2018 and 2019.  

The Coaches Poll projects Villanova to finish second in the Big East behind Denver, with the Wildcats receiving two first place votes. The Wildcats are followed by the two-time defending Big East Tournament champs Georgetown in third, with the Providence Friars close behind in fourth. Marquette was projected to end the season in fifth, while St John’s was the unanimous choice to be in the league’s basement at the conclusion of the season.

Last season, the squad had four of its players selected to the all-Big East preseason team: senior Connor Kirst, redshirt junior Patrick Kennedy, junior Keegan Khan and sophomore Will Vitton. All four of these players were unanimous selections, as well as earning spots of the all-Big East 2019 regular season team. Kirst, who last year was named Big East Midfielder of the Year a season ago, was named to the All-American second team. Last season, Kennedy picked an all-Big East second team selection as well. Khan, before the halting of last season, received this same honor consecutive years in 2018 and 2019. Vitton shared with him in that regard in 2019.

This season, the team will take a personnel hit, as Kirst transferred to Rutgers and was selected for pre-season All-American honors. It will be up to the other three stars of the team to help the Wildcats  continue to grow as a program.

However, the team will be buoyed by the addition of 11 talented freshmen, as well as a graduate transfer. Attackers Tucker Goodelle and Matt Licata infuse youth into the Wildcat offense, but the focus of Villanova’s recruiting was in the midfield. Lucas Kopecky, Tom Miller, Jack Neill, Will Wheeler and Jack Cerza will look to make an impact in midfield. Defensively, Keith Carra, Reid Colwell and Michael Trancanna were added, and goalkeeper Nico Iacovino rounds out the new recruits.

The Wildcats also welcome Jimmy McAfee, a graduate transfer from Amherst College. He’s a two-time All-American midfielder and was a captain last season. 

His added leadership and veteran experience will be valuable in guiding the team to wins over tougher opponents. 

In such an unusual year, it will be as challenging for lacrosse as it has been for any sport across the country. But, if the Wildcats overcome adversity and stick to the attitude that has always allowed them to persevere, they should be well within the hunt for the NCAA Tournament. 

The ‘Cats opens its season on Feb. 13 against Delaware in Newark.