February 19, 2011

Villanova Rallies Past Lehigh 9-8

from press release

Billy Hurley came up big down the stretch and finished with eight saves for Villanova.

© Kevin P. Tucker

VILLANOVA, Pa. - A third-quarter rally prompted by four Villanova scorers made the difference as the Wildcats (1-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) tallied a 9-8 victory over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-0, 0-0 Patriot League) on Saturday afternoon.

Junior Kevin Cunningham (Garden City, N.Y./Kellenberg) led the team with two goals and two assists while sophomore Will Casertano (Millbrook, N.Y./Salisbury School) posted two goals and an assist of his own for the balanced offensive effort.

Said Villanova head coach Mike Corrado: "I'm proud of how our team came back at the end of the game, scoring four straight goals at the end of the third quarter and going into the fourth to cement the win."

Villanova took the early 4-2 lead in the first quarter, with freshman Jack Rice (Baltimore, Md./Boys' Latin) , Casertano and Cunningham leading the scoring effort with four tallies within a six-minute time span at the 12:08, 8:28, 6:56 and 6:09 marks.

Lehigh responded at the end of the first quarter with 1:16 remaining when Brian Hess rifled a low shot into the net off a Noah Molnar assist, beginning a series of unanswered scores from Johnston, Stumpf and Hess to give Lehigh a 6-4 advantage to start the third quarter.

Villanova broke a 21:41 scoreless streak when sophomore Nick Doherty (Bernardsville, N.J./Delbarton) captured his first point of the game with 11:19 left in the third stanza to get VU to within one of Lehigh at 6-5, lighting a fire under the Villanova offense to began what would prove to be the game changing series of scores.

Following the lead of Doherty, Matt Bell (Severna Park, Md./St. Mary's) pulled Villanova to 7-6 of Lehigh with 5:09 remaining while the Wildcats converted a pair of transition, unsettled situations late in the quarter. Rice converted a Andrew Henrich (Wyndmoor, Pa./La Salle) pass at the 1:13 mark to tie the score at seven-all, while Casertano solidified the backbreaker with 0.1 seconds remaining to help regain an 8-7 advantage heading into the fourth.

Sophomore Max Hart (Bethesda, Md./Georgetown Prep) contributed an all-important fourth-quarter goal with 13:54 remaining to put the Wildcats up 9-7 on Lehigh, which proved to be enough for the victory after the Villanova defense stifled a series of last-minute attempts from the Hawks. Lehigh's Johnston notched a late-effort goal to give the Hawks a fighting chance, but the score would stand 9-8 in favor of VU.

Defensively, senior T.J. O'Donnell (Randolph, N.J./Delbarton) led the team with four ground balls while classmate Brian Karalunas (Dewitt, N.Y./Jamesville Dewitt) contributed four takeaways and three ground balls for the match. Sophomore keeper Billy Hurley (Morristown, N.J./Delbarton) added eight saves for the afternoon and earned his first victory of the 2011 season in the effort.

Corrado adds on the win, "Billy Hurley made a few big saves for us at the end of the game and came up big for us.I was happy to see some balanced scoring, especially with Kevin Cunningham being the quarterback of our offense and scoring four points. Casertano had a big game for us as well."

Villanova will enter a three game away stand beginning a week from today when they travel to Lewisburg, Pa. to face Bucknell. Game time is scheduled for Noon on the Bucknell University campus.

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