Men’s Lacrosse Downs Penn State, 13-12


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Patrick Daly (above) scored the game-winning goal on Saturday.

Tyler Moore, Staff Writer

The Villanova men’s lacrosse team started the 2022 season with a 13-12 win at Penn State on Saturday afternoon, dropping the Nittany Lions’ record to 1-1.

“It’s important to get a win against a team like Penn State,” head coach Mike Corrado said. “I think it hopefully gives us some confidence and something we can build on.”

The narrow victory was built behind senior attackman Patrick Daly’s six goals on 11 shots, his final score coming on a ground ball in front of the net to take the lead within the final minute of play. Graduate attackman Luke Keating followed with two goals of his own and two assists. Five other Wildcats each contributed goals of their own. Senior goalkeeper Will Vitton recorded 13 saves to hold off a strong Penn State offense.

‘Nova got off to an early 3-0 start behind goals from graduate attackman Brett Baskin, senior midfielder Matt Campbell and senior midfielder Austin Fraser. The Nittany Lions found the net in response, which led Daly to quickly score his first goal of the contest. The first quarter ended with the ‘Cats leading 4-3 after Penn State scored two more before the buzzer. 

The start of the second quarter saw three consecutive goals from Daly and one by graduate attackman J.P. Basile with no response from the Nittany Lion offense. The ‘Cats went up by five, their largest lead of the game, before Penn State was able to score twice in the final minute of the half.

Keating scored his first goal as the second half began, but the Nittany Lions quickly turned the game around scoring five in a row to take a 10-9 lead. The fourth quarter became a back and forth match with sophomore midfielder Tucker Goodelle and Keating earned back to back goals to retake the lead before Penn State tied it back up. Daly quickly scored his fifth goal of the day a minute later.

After Penn State once again tied things up, Daly took the ball with a minute left to play and scored the game winning goal. The Nittany Lions won the face off to have one last chance, but Vitton saved a powerful shot with just nine seconds left to seal the win.

“We did some really good things in that game,” Corrado said, “And obviously, we have some things we need to continue to work on, so I think it’s a good stepping stone for the rest of the year.”

The win against the Nittany Lions bumped the Wildcats into the Inside Lacrosse Top 20, taking the 20th spot. While taking down Penn State for the first time since 2018 was a feat of its own, the team has much to look forward to in the coming season. As of the latest poll, ‘Nova is set to face five Top 20 teams, including Big East conference foes Denver and Georgetown. The schedule also features two teams that received votes in the poll.

However, the schedule is something to look forward to, as the team is fully up to the challenge, according to Corrado. He also preached a focus on consistency from his team, noting that it will be necessary in order to hang with the best in the country.

“Consistency is always the greatest challenge and playing well consistently will be a challenge,” Corrado said. “ And if we don’t [play consistently] against good teams, you could end up losing some games. Our non-league schedule is designed to be competitive to prepare us for the Big East Conference, which is, to me, one of the best conferences in the country.”

Consistency will be important from the key returnees, including Daly and Campbell. Daly was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll due to his explosive performance against Penn State, and Campbell was named to numerous preseason all-American teams, including the All-Big East Preseason team. 

“(Campbell’s) a four-year player for us, so I expect him to be a leader on and off the field,” Corrado said of the senior. “I expect him to have a really good season. He’s incredibly talented. He’s one of the best players at his position in the country, so I fully expect him to continue having a successful career.”

The biggest challenge for the Wildcats will come on the defensive end which features a fresh set of faces. Graduate defender Chris Hervada is newest to the team, as he transferred from Monmouth where he was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and led the Hawks to a conference title. 

“We have a lot of youth at the defensive end of the field, a lot of new faces down there, and I think our defense continues to improve and get better through practice and through games, experience will be really, really important,” Corrado said. 

The next step for the Wildcats is a trip to Connecticut to take on the seventh ranked Yale Bulldogs on Saturday at noon. The contest will be Yale’s first official game since the 2020 season due to the Ivy League’s cancellation of sporting events last year. The two teams played back in 2020, and the Wildcats came out on top, 18-12.

“I think a key to the game [will be] limiting turnovers against them and limiting them in transition,” Corrado said. “They’re a very good transition team, so I think those two areas are going to be really, really important for us.”