No. 17 University of Delaware Men’s Lacrosse Heads to No. 11 Villanova Saturday for Top 20 Showdown
April 8, 2011
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- Riding a three-game win streak that has vaulted them back into the national top 20, the 17th-ranked University of Delaware men’s lacrosse squad will face a stern test Saturday evening when the Blue Hens head to No. 11 Villanova for a 7 p.m. non-league battle at Villanova Stadium.
The Blue Hens (7-3), who currently reside atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 3-0 mark, will step out of league play Saturday to take on a Wildcat team (7-3) that was recently ranked in the top five nationally before dropping consecutive games to No. 1 Syracuse (5-4) and No. 2 Notre Dame (12-8) the last two weeks.
The two former CAA rivals will meet for the 16th time with Delaware holding an 8-7 advantage, but the Wildcats have won each of the last two meetings to break a four-game Delaware win streak. Villanova posted an 11-8 victory last season at Delaware Stadium after posting a 5-4 win in the last meeting held at Villanova Stadium in 2009.
Delaware enters the game as one of the nation’s hottest teams as the Blue Hens have won consecutive CAA matchups over then No. 4 Hofstra (7-6), Towson (8-7), and Drexel (9-7), taking each verdict despite falling behind by multiple goals in the first quarter.
Delaware and Villanova look almost identical statistically as both have scored 99 goals in 10 games this season with the Hens allowing 9.0 goals per game and the Wildcats 8.2 per contest. Villanova narrowly holds an edge in faceoffs by a .569 to .561 margin while the two teams rank fourth and fifth nationally in caused turnovers per game. Delaware forced 10.6 per game while Villanova is right behind at 10.3 per contests.
The Blue Hens are led offensively by junior Eric Smith, who has scored in every game this season and paces the squad with 28 points on 15 goals and 13 assists. Grant Kaleikau (at right) has 21 points on seven goals and 14 assists while Sean Finegan has scored 14 times. Dan Cooney has won 55.6 percent of his faceoffs while goalkeeper Noah Fossner allows 8.97 goals per game while posting a .537 save percentage.
Villanova’s Kevin Cunningham ranks among the national leaders in scoring with 21 goals and 16 assists while Nolan Vihlen wins 56.5 percent of his faceoffs. Defensively, Brian Karalunas leads the nation with 4.6 caused turnovers per game while goalkeeper Billy Hurley allows just 8.23 goals per game while posting a .491 save percentage.