Friday, April 4, 2014
When: 7:00 pm Eastern
Denver Pioneers (8-2, 2-0) vs.
Villanova Wildcats (4-5, 2-0)
TV & Livestream: CBS Sports Network
This is the 7th meeting between the two schools, each team sharing 3 games a piece. Denver comes in ranked 6th in the country, however Denver was ranked 4th when they last defeated the Wildcats 13-10 on May 15th, 2011.
Denver is currently riding a 5 game winning streak, their most recent win coming last Saturday coming in Washington DC vs. the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas dropped this one in a 17-9 blowout.
The Pioneers are one of the toughest offensive teams out there, if not THE toughest. They average a cool 13.1 goals per game, looking intimidating to the Wildcat's 9.44 average. Denver also has turned the ball over 40 times LESS than 'Nova this year. Three athletes on the Pioneers' roster total at least 30 points this season, while senior Kevin O'Neil leads Villanova with 22. Seven Denver athletes have double digits points, and they are lead by Jack Bobzien (25 G, 12 A; 37 P).
Denver's weakness is their faceoffs. Their success percentage is only 40%. Here, the 'Cats have the advantage with a nearly 50% win percentage on faceoffs.
Both the Pioneers and Wildcats average the same shots per game and opponent clear percentages, thus the 'Cats come in with a smaller underdog gap than it seems. Faceoffs are obviously key, however defense will be the major proponent of who wins this Big East showdown.
Villanova extended their winning streak to 3 with a shocking victory over the then-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in College Park by a score of 9-7. Denver and Villanova are the Big East schools with undefeated conference records
The `Cats' leading scorer is, again, Kevin O'Neill with 16 goals and 22 total points. The next highest scorer is now Johnny Gallaway and Eric Gartner with 12 each. Defense proved to be the deciding factor in their last outing, so we'll see if that same type of play traveled with the team to again take down a ranked foe.
The Pioneers have a tag-team of goalies, however the Wildcats put all their eggs in one basket with freshman Dan Willis. The freshman has adjusted well to high-major college play, decreasing his GAA to 9.39 and saving 47.4% of shots.