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Lax: Searching for a Big Win

Villanova lacrosse has not yet brought home a victory outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The 4-3 Wildcats have played three games outside of their home state, against Delaware, Princeton and Maryland, and has lost all three. Tomorrow they will play a fourth at the Carrier Dome against 9th-ranked Syracuse.

The Orange come into the game, the Big East conference opener for both teams, with a 4-2 record on the season, having lost to the #1-ranked Virginia Cavaliers and #2-ranked Johns Hopkins.

It will be the fifth meeting between the schools, and Villanova is still searching for its first win in the series. Last season the two teams battled in a very close game, with the Orange ultimately winning 5-4 on a last-minute goal in front of a big crowd at Villanova Stadium.

Offensively, the teams are pretty close with the Wildcats taking a small edge. Villanova averages 10.57 goals per game, while Syracuse averages 9.67.

Villanova's Jack Rice has put the ball in the goal more than anyone else on the team, with 15. Will Casertano has accounted for 22 points with 8 goals and 14 assists on offense, while Kevin Cunningham and C.J. Small have each accounted for 17 points.

For Syracuse, it is Derek Maltz leading the attack with 18 points on 13 goals and 5 assists. Tim Desko has added 10 goals and 3 assists, while JoJo Marasco has accounted for 5 goals and 8 assists, making up 13 points each.

Defensively, Syracuse has been the stronger team this season, holding opponents to an average of 9.17 goals per game. Villanova's opponents have scored an average of 10.42 points per game.

The 'Cuse has used a tandem of goalkeepers this season, with Matthew Lerman and Dominic Lamolinara splitting the duties so far and have combined for a .495 save percentage. Close defensemen, Brian Megill, Matt Harris and David Hamlin have combined for 48 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers while midfielder Peter Macartney has picked up 13 ground balls.

The Wildcats have stuck with senior Dan Gutierrez in the net this season and he has posted a .486 save percentage. His defensemen, Chris Creighton, Ryan McDonagh and Chris Conroy have combined for 32 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers while midfielder John LoCascio has grabbed 29 ground balls and caused nine turnovers so far.

This is a weaker Syracuse team than in years-previous. The Wildcats will need to get into an offensive groove early and outwork the Orange defense. Villanova can't afford to fall behind early against an opponent like Syracuse. The 'Cuse are still ranked in the top-10, despite losing a lot of last season's talent, and will be a very tough-out at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse fans will show up for a lacrosse game and generate a very good home advantage.

The game will get going at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, 2012 and will be carried live on SNY in the New York area.