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LAX: Cats bounce back at Penn

Updated 8pm:The Wildcats got themselves an 8-7 victor over Penn after having to come back from a deficit of 6-2 midway through the third quarter. Villanova had brought the score back to even with the clock ticking down. The manner in which victory was clinched couldn't have been sweeter:

The No. 12 Villanova Men's Lacrosse team certainly put a memorable stamp on their walk-off, last second goal from junior Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) to solidify the 8-7 victory over Penn on Saturday afternoon.

After a Quaker timeout with 29 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied at 7-7, Penn's Rob Fitzpatrick weaved his way through the Villanova defense, taking the probable last shot of regulation. But a point-blank save from senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) gave the Wildcats possession with 11 seconds remaining in the game. What happened next is something for the record books.

Gutierrez found a cutting Hart - who less than a minute earlier made the game-tying goal with 1:09 on the clock - and proceeded to sprint and unleash an underhand blast from the 40 yard line that skidded past Penn's goalkeeper. With just one second remaining in the game, Villanova solidified the victory and held the lead for the first time all game at 8-7.

The Wildcats are now 4-1 on the season and the win is the second-straight over the cross-town rivals. Up next, they will host 14th-ranked Princeton at Villanova Stadium at 7:00pm on on Tuesday, March 13th.

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At 3:00 p.m. today, the 12th-ranked Wildcats will travel to University City to take on the Penn Quakers in their annual lacrosse rivalry. Villanova is trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season at Delaware last weekend. Despite pulling out to a quick 6-1 lead over Delaware in the first quarter, the Blue Hens were able to get into a groove and it was 13-9 victory for Nova's football rivals.

Offensively, the Wildcats have averaged 13.25 goals per game in their first 4 games and have allowed just 10.25 goals from the opposition. They lead opponents in shot on goal percentage .673 to .638.

Junior Will Casertano is the team's best offensive player, with 16 points this season on seven goals and nine assists. Seniors C.J. Small and Kevin Cunningham each have accumulated 14 points apiece.

Junior Jack Rice scored 12 goals on the season already, half of which came in a game against Bucknell, a career-high.

Villanova's defense is anchored by seniors Chris Creighton and Ryan McDonagh and sophomore Chris Conroy, who have generated 20 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers. Sophomore long-stick midfielder John LoCascio has grabbed 20 ground balls and forced six turnovers so far.

Penn brings a 1-2 record into the meeting this afternoon, coming off of a big victory over North Carolina on Tuesday, which may have helped them tighten up a defense that helped them ride to the postseason last year. Penn averages 7.33 goals per game on offense but has coughed up 9.33 goals per game.

Last spring, a 20th-ranked Villanova team upset the number-8 Penn in overtime, but this year the tables are turned with the Wildcats being the team with the lofty ranking, allowing Penn to play the role of a scrappy underdog. It will be the 23rd meeting of the schools with Penn owning a 15-7 record, last winning in 2010.

Both schools were NCAA Tournament participants last year.