Press Release: Despite a 6-6 tie at halftime, 12th ranked Villanova (5-4, 1-0) couldn't surge to victory as No. 18 Penn State (5-5) upset the Wildcats 13-8 at Penn State Lacrosse Field on Saturday afternoon.
The loss marks the finale of non-conference competition for the Wildcats this season as they look towards the remainder of their BIG EAST schedule which resumes this Wednesday versus Georgetown.
Penn State, which entered the game averaging less than eight goals per contest, scored seven straight goals bridging the end of the second quarter and continuing into the fourth to solidify the victory. During that drought, the Nittany Lions managed to hold Villanova scoreless for 31:57 - the longest scoring drought for Villanova this season.
Despite Villanova outshooting the Nittany Lions by a 35-31 margin, winning 15-of-25 faceoff's on the day and going 2-for-3 on extra man opportunities, PSU goalkeeper Austin Kaut made 17 saves for the victory which proved to be a game changer.
Villanova was led by the four point performance of junior Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.), who registered a hat trick and one assist and sophomore face-off specialist Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) who went 11-of-15 (73%) on the day.
In an evenly contested first half that featured six tied scores and four lead changes, neither team took more than a one goal lead for the first 30 minutes of play. The Wildcats got on board at the 11:57 mark off an extra-man opportunity, with senior Michael Vigilante (Massapequa, N.Y.) finding the back of the net from a Casertano assist to tie the score at 1-1.
Less than a minute later, PSU's Nick Dolik would put the Nittany Lions up at 2-1 before Villanova netted two scores just ten seconds apart from senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) and junior Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.) to give the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with 4:18 remaining in the quarter. Two PSU goals would close out the first stanza in favor of the Nittany Lions at 4-3.
Starting the second quarter, Cunningham found an open Rice at the top of the crease to tie the score at 4-all before PSU connected on an extra-man opportunity to once again take the lead at 5-4.
Senior C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) and Casertano would net the final two Villanova scores of the half just 25 seconds apart to give VU a 6-5 lead before PSU's Jack Forster would net the final score of the half to tie the game at 6-6.
Villanova would go on to score only two more goals in the final 30 minutes, both from Casertano at the 5:07 and 3:37 marks in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) registered six saves in the defeat while sophomore LSM John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) posted three ground balls and one caused turnover for the day.
The Wildcats will be back in action on Wednesday, April 4th when they take on BIG EAST rival No. 20 Georgetown at 7 p.m. in Villanova Stadium.