On Saturday at 1 PM at Villanova Stadium, the Villanova men's lacrosse team opens their 2013 campaign against nationally ranked Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Lehigh has already played one game, as they routed the lowly St. Joseph's Hawks 14-1.
The #11 Mountain Hawks had an impressive season last year under head coach Kevin Cassese. They earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Patriot League Championship. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Lehigh took eventual national runner-up Maryland to the wire, ultimately losing a 10-9 thriller. Overall, the Mountain Hawks finished 14-3 on the season, while the Wildcats faltered down the stretch to end up at 8-7.
This year, Lehigh sports an impressive starting attack unit led by seniors Dante Fantoni and David DiMaria. The duo combined for 12 points in last week's victory. After graduating an experienced defense, junior Nova defenders Chris Conroy and Chris Piccirilli will have a tough task containing the Mountain Hawks.
It will be interesting to see how the new rules affect the Wildcats. After the refs call a stall warning, a 30 second shot clock will be implemented, forcing the offense to attack the cage. Last year's Villanova squad played a very fast-paced offensive game, so this rule may not impact them that much if head coach Mike Corrado intends to play up tempo again this year. In addition, there will be no horns for substitutions anymore, as all changes will be made on the fly. Recognizing certain situations and getting appropriate personnel on the field quickly will be crucial.