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Lax: Irish come back to drop 'Cats

PRESS RELEASE - No. 5 Notre Dame (10-1, 5-0) rallied from a 4-0 deficit to top No. 11 Villanova (8-5, 4-1) 10-7 in front of 5,807 fans on Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium. The Fighting Irish posted eight unanswered goals and held the Wildcats scoreless for just under 40 minutes to remain undefeated in the BIG EAST.

Senior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y.) led the Villanova offense with three points via one goal and two assists while C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) and Max Hart (Bethesda, Md.) each contributed two points each. Notre Dame was led by the four point performance of Sean Rogers.

The Wildcats got out to a quick lead to begin the game, scoring four goals in the opening 10 minutes from Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md.), Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J.) Hart and Cunningham. At the 4:18 mark, the Fighting Irish began their comeback when Conor Doyle netted the final score of the first quarter to close the VU lead to three at 4-1.

At the end of the half, Villanova held narrow 4-2 lead over the Irish after Rogers tallied the lone goal of the second stanza with 8:57 remaining in the quarter.

Coming out of the locker room, the Irish flipped the scenario and posted six unanswered goals beginning at the 14:39 mark and lasting until 11:07 of the fourth quarter. During the span, six different players posted points for the Irish while ND took a 8-4 lead.

The Wildcats made a fourth quarter comeback when C.J. Small (San Diego, Calif.) capitalized off a Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y.) assist to close the score to 8-5. Just 35 seconds later, sophomore Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.) netted his second goal of the season off a transition play and was followed by a score from Hart to get the Wildcats to within two at 9-7 with 9:18 remaining in the game.

Notre Dame's Westy Hopkins would go on to tally the final goal of the game with 1:21 remaining to solidify the Notre Dame victory at 10-7.

Defensively, sophomore John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) grabbed five ground balls and two caused turnovers while senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez (Chevy Chase, Md.) posted seven saves in the defeat. Notre Dame's John Kemp made 10 saves in the victory.

Upon the conclusion of the contest, Villanova earned the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Championship to be held May 3rd and 5th at Villanova Stadium. Notre Dame earned the No. 1 seed while Syracuse and St. John's round out the No. 3 and No. 4 slots. The Wildcats will face Syracuse in the first round of the Championship.

The Wildcats will conclude their regular season next Saturday, April 28th when they face Providence at the Friar Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. Game time is slated for 2 p.m.