Saturday, April 12, 2014
When: 7:00 pm Eastern
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5, 2-2) vs.
Villanova Wildcats (4-6, 2-1)
High Point Solutions Stadium
The Villanova Wildcats (4-6, 2-1) and Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5, 2-2) will meet for the 12th time on Saturday. Rutgers holds the advantage in the all-time series by the slimmest of margins, 6-5. Villanova closed the gap last year, however, as Jack Rice and his five goals helped lift the Wildcats past their Big East foe.
Scarlet Knights Download
After surging to a 6-2 record with wins over Army and St. John's, the Scarlet Knights have cooled off as of late, dropping three of their last four contests. They dropped their most recent match against nationally ranked Princeton in a 15-11 shootout.
And shootouts are not an uncommon occurrence for this Rutgers team. On the season, they average 13 goals per game and have only scored in the single digits twice. Their attack is led by redshirt-senior Scott Klimchak. Klimchak averages around 2.5 goals per game and connects on an outstanding 44% of his shots, especially impressive considering the high volume of opportunities. Christian Trasoloni and Scott Bieda back up their senior leader on the offensive end, contributing 24 and 14 goals respectively.
Ball movement is a strength of this team; four different players average an assist per game. While these statistics are certainly inflated due to the potency of their offense and quality of some of their lesser competition, the Wildcats' defense will have their hands full come Saturday. Quick rotations and avoiding penalties will be imperative for Villanova as they attempt to stymie the Scarlet Knights' attack.
Kris Alleyne mans the goal for Villanova's Big East foe. The sophomore boasts a solid 53% save rate.
An interesting note, Rutgers has outscored their opponents by 26 goals in the first half (86-60). That margin falls to only four goals in favor of the Scarlet Knights in the second half. Villanova must weather the first half storm and be ready to counter attack in the latter portion of the game.
After tearing off a three game winning streak that extended into the Big East play, the Wildcats suffered a devastating loss to the Denver Pioneers in overtime, 8-9. They would have certainly received a large portion of top 20 votes this week had the win materialized.
Instead, Villanova must find a way to neutralize Rutgers' high powered offense. If anyone is going to be up for the challenge, it's senior defensemen John Locascio. The Big East Defender of the Year candidate has provided a backbone to the Wildcats back-line this year. He must be on his game forcing turnovers and gathering ground balls early on.
Offensively, Villanova offers a very balanced attack. Behind leading scorer Kevin O'Neil's 25 points, seven different Wildcats have scored at least 10 points on the season. Whoever has the hot hand early should go after the Scarlet Knights' young goalie.
For the Wildcats, Dan Willis protects the net. The freshman has done an admirable job in his rookie campaign, saving 49% of shot on goal and allowing just over 9 goals per game. This contest against Rutgers will be one of his toughest tests of the year.