No. 2 Denver Downs Villanova to Win Big East Championship

VILLANOVA, Pa. The Villanova Wildcats saw their season come to a close in the Big East Championship game, as the No. 2-ranked Denver Pioneers (14-2, 6-0) claimed a 14-7 win over the hosts at Villanova Stadium. With the loss, Villanova finishes the year with a 6-10 overall record and 3-3 mark in the Big East.

Denver's victory gives the Pioneers the Big East automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament set to begin next week at campus sites. The loss marks the second-straight for Villanova in the conference final; the Wildcats fell to Syracuse in the 2013 championship match 13-9.

Following the contest, freshman Devin McNamara (Lutherville, Md.) and seniors John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.) and Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) were named to the Big East Championship All-Tournament team for their performances over Marquette and against Denver. It marked the third consecutive year LoCascio has claimed all-tournament team accolades.

The Wildcats and Pioneers battled for the opening 30 minutes of action in the back and forth contest. Villanova registered two goals to start the game from junior Eric Gartner (Malvern, Pa.) and McNamara to take a quick 2-0 lead in the opening six minutes. Denver would go on to score a pair of goals from Wesley Berg and Zach Miller to tie the game at 2-2 at the 4:32 mark, but the Wildcats answered with goals from sophomore Johnny Gallaway (Middletown, Md.) and McNamara to extend their lead to 4-2 with 1:41 remaining in the quarter.

The Pioneers closed the quarter with three seconds left in the stanza from Mike Riis to put the Villanova at just one at 4-3. Following another two scores from Berg and Harrison Archer, Denver took their first lead of the game with 7:25 left to play in the half at 5-4.

Both sides traded scores in the final 5:14 as sophomore Matt McIver (Andover, Mass.) tied the contest at 5-5. Croonquist won the final faceoff of the half and streaked towards goal in the closing minutes as it was deadlocked 6-6 heading into halftime.

Coming out of the locker rooms, Denver surged ahead and would go on to notch the next eight goals to bridge the third and fourth quarters for a 14-6 lead over the Wildcats. During that span, Villanova was held scoreless for 28:32 and was shutout for the entire third period.

The Wildcats ended the contest with a goal from McIver with 1:28 left to play as the game ended 14-7 in favor of the Pioneers.

Villanova freshman goalkeeper Dan Willis (Moorestown, N.J.) tallied 12 saves in the defeat while McNamara, Gartner and McIver registered two points each. Denver's Jamie Faus and Ryan LaPlante combined for eight saves in the win.

The loss marked the final game for the Villanova 2014 senior class: Kevin O'Neil (Cockeysville, Md.), John LoCascio (Fairfield, N.J.), Jimmy Wyatt (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), Chris Piccirilli (Davidsonville, Md.), Christopher Conroy (Chatham, N.J.), Mark Jackson (West Chester, Pa.), Thomas Croonquist (North Caldwell, N.J.) and Remington Pope (Boston, Mass.)

2014 Big East All-Tournament Team
Scott Bieda Rutgers, So.
Liam Byrnes Marquette, So.
Devin McNamara Villanova, Fr.
Thomas Croonquist Villanova, Sr.
John LoCascio Villanova, Sr.
Zach Miller Denver, Fr.
Jack Bobzien Denver, So.
Chris Hampton Denver, So.
Wesley Berg Denver, Jr. (Tournament Most Outstanding Player)
Jamie Faus Denver, Sr.

* * * *

VILLANOVA, Pa. - No. 2 Denver captured the Big East championship with a 14-7 win over No. 3 seeded Villanova on Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium. The win extends the Pioneers' win streak to 11 straight games and gives Denver the automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships that begins May 10-11.

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2014-05-03



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