Saturday, April 26, 2014
When: 1:00 pm Eastern
Providence Friars (3-10, 0-5) vs.
Villanova Wildcats (5-8, 3-2)
The Villanova Wildcats (5-8, 3-4) and the Providence Friars (3-10, 0-5) will square off for the sixth time Saturday afternoon. Villanova holds the edge in the all-time series 4-1, including a victory last year in a 19-11 shootout. Jack Rice led all scorers with a four goal effort.
It's been a rough year for the Friars. After beginning the season 2-0, Providence has subsequently lost nine of their last ten contests. They're without a win in Big East action, and most recently suffered an eight goal loss on their senior night at the hands of Denver. But this isn't a game Villanova can afford to take lightly. The Friars have hung tough against multiple Big East foes, losing to Georgetown and Marquette by two and one goals respectively.
Providence has consistently struggled to score in their conference tilts; the college out of Rhode Island notched single digit goals in each of their five matches. Part of the anemic offense stems from the Friars inability to connect on their shots on goal. To date, they've converted on less than 24% of their eligible shots. When paired with an assist count that is almost doubled by their opponent's total, it's easy to see why Providence is only scoring approximately 6.5 goals in conference play.
Andrew Barton and Sean Wright do the heavy lifting for the Friars, racking up 43 and 40 points respectively between the two. Outside of that dynamic duo, there are no obvious threats to target for the Villanova defense. Alex Corboy is a marksman of sorts. The freshman out of Gonzaga High School in Maryland (Kris Jenkins' Alma Mater) has connected on 20 of his shots this year on an impressive 36% conversion rate.
Ball movement is not a strength for Providence. Only two players, Barton and Wright, can boast double digit assist counts.
Tyler Himes mans the goal for Villanova's foe. The senior has posted a solid 52% save rate to date. While not terribly weak, the Wildcats should be able to take advantage with a concerted attack on goal.
An interesting note--Providence struggles mightily out of the gate. In the first and third quarters, the Friars have been outscored by a margin of 34 goals. Conversely, they hold a positive one goal margin in the combined second and fourth quarters.
This is a must win contest for Villanova. While they were in the game early, the Wildcats eventually fell to the powerhouse Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. The good guys from the main line need all the momentum they can get heading into the conference tournament.
Offensively, the Wildcats are led by Kevin O'Neil and Jack Curran. O'Neil must be proud of his senior season to date, as he leads the team in goals (25) and is third in assists (10). Curran continues his breakout sophomore campaign in stellar fashion, offering balance for Villanova's offense in the form of 14 goals and 15 assists. Behind those two, six Wildcats have recorded at least 10 points.
Dan Willis patrols the goalposts for the Wildcats. Although he struggled late against Johns Hopkins, Willis has proved quite capable of anchoring the defense. The freshman claims a solid 50% save rate.
While they secured their berth in the Big East championship with their win in early April over Rutgers, this is a game the Wildcats desperately need. Expect them to come out fired up, and ready to put on as they bid farewell to their elders on senior night. Eight seniors will be honored.