The Denver Pioneers handled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the afternoon. All that was left was to wait and see who their opponent would be on Saturday in the Big East Championship Final. Despite a 100-minute lightning delay, the Villanova Wildcats were able to stave off the Marquette Golden Eagles 9-6. The Wildcats advance to their 3rd Big East Championship game.
Both teams started with stagnant offenses. No goals were scored until 6:06 when Marquette's Kyle Whitlow found the back of the net. Villanova would go on a 3-0 run for the rest of the first quarter, started by a goal from Eric Gartner. At the 1:29 mark Gartner would assist Harry DellaFera in giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. With 15 seconds left in the quarter, Danny O'Connell added a goal of his own to give Villanova a 3-1 lead entering the 2nd quarter.
The second quarter showed similar command in favor of the `Cats. Thomas Croonquist started the offense quickly by scoring a goal 5 seconds into the quarter. Five and a half minutes later the Golden Eagles drew to within 2 goals yet again thanks to Bryan Badolato's assist to Kyran Clarke. In a 1:19 span near the end of the half, Devin McNamara and Jack Curran scored unassisted goals to put `Nova up 6-2 entering the 3rd quarter.
Villanova had definite control of the first half, and it showed up in the stat book as well. `Nova outshot the Golden Eagles 20-14 and won the groundball battle 20-11. The only fault in the first two quarters was 2 faceoff violations. Both teams cleared the ball with high efficiency, and Villanova was 10-11 and Marquette was a perfect 11-11. Marquette's biggest issue was turnovers as they had 9 to the Wildcats' 5.
The Golden Eagles stormed out of the gate for the third quarter. At the 11:13 mark, Bryan Badolato took a pass from Conor Gately and beat Dan Willis to put the Villanova lead at 6-3. Nearly five minutes later, Gately would take it himself and pull the Golden Eagles to within two. `Nova's Devin McNamara would break the mini-run to extend the lead to 7-4, but then Noah Joseph and Blaine Fleming would have goals of their own to end the quarter only down one.
The start of the 4th quarter showed that the Wildcats' poor third was only a small rough patch. Matt McIver beat Marquette's Jimmy Danaher to put the lead at two, then John LoCascio would get the faceoff and take it all the way himself, scoring just 8 seconds later. All of his teammates went up to congratulate LoCascio after his goal. Then, at 8:38pm, the lightning bell went off, commencing what would be a nearly 100-minute lightning delay. After the warning subsided, both teams took the field with 11:15 left, however no other scores would occur.
Marquette's biggest downfall was clearly turnovers- they finished with 19 on the night which greatly surpasses their average of around 13. They also gave the `Cats many more opportunities to score, evident in the 42-26 shot differential. Villanova's defense came up big as well, winning the groundballs 38-21 and making 9 saves. The biggest reason may be faceoffs as Marquette only won 5 of 19.
Villanova advances to the Big East Championship Finals to face Denver. Opening faceoff is slated for 4:30pm. The game is held at Villanova Stadium.