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Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: Villanova

The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse season we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Villanova Wildcats, located in Radnor Township, PA.

When you start off with Villanova’s 7-8 record in 2013, it doesn’t look all that impressive, but the Wildcats played a tough schedule (they faced 9 top ten opponents) and competed all season long, with their worst losses coming by 4 goals to Penn, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. Nova’s biggest win was an 11-10 regular season victory over Cuse. They lost all their other Top 20 games, but won every game against non-Top 20 teams.

Villanova’s 2014 slate of games isn’t any easier as they face 8 teams ranked in the preseason Top 20 poll. Drexel, Marquette, Providence, Rutgers, Georgetown, and Delaware are the only non Top 20 teams they face, and all should be competitive at the very least. It’s a tough road, and the SOS is high. 2014 is another trial by fire for Nova, but they are a threat to win the Big East.

Jack Rice returns for his senior year at attack and he currently owns the Villanova goals record with 128 career markers. Kevin O’Neill played in the midfield last year but could play attack, and he is another dangerous returning scorer. John Klun will continue to impress after seeing a lot of action as a freshman. Eric Gartner is another diverse scorer and he can shoot and pass well. Tim Mulrenan should see more time at attack and continue to finish opportunities at an impressive rate. Jack Curran returns from injury and he should make an impact right away.

Defensively, Villanova has one of the best poles in the country in John LoCasio. LoCasio is a captain for 2014, put in 2 goals on his own (and assisted on six others) last season, and scooped up an insane 85 GBs while causing 53 turnovers. 53! Holy smokes. Chris Piccirilli is another pole who can also score as he added 5 goals and 2 assists last year. Remington Pope has played d-mid and pole and he added 2 goals and 4 assists last year while playing in all 15 games. Imagine having three poles with that kind of handle on your D. Christopher Conroy isn’t the scorer that these other defenders can be, but he is as solid as they come and has started 28 games in his career. He’s tough and strong and is a nice physical option down low with loads of experience.

In goal, Reed Carlson returns and he played the majority of the team’s minutes last year. Greg Stamatov also played quite a bit, especially early, and he could push back into the conversation. Freshman Dan Willis could also push to see action this year. While goalie may be a bit of a question, face offs should be solid with Thomas Croonquist coming back for his senior year as a team captain. It gives Nova a solid starting point.

Villanova did graduate some talent from last year’s team, but they have an athletic group of poles and three good keepers to work with. This will allow them to continue to press out on D and be disruptive, which will keep them in games. Offensively they also have some talent, and it’s easy to believe that the Wildcats will be extremely dangerous in transition. Add in extra possessions and this team could definitely be in Top 20 and likely be winning more games than they are losing.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse team coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air_ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBostonBrownBryantBucknellCanisius,
GeorgetownHartfordHarvardHigh PointHobartHofstraHoly CrossJacksonvilleJohns_HopkinsLafayetteLehighLoyolaManhattanMaristMarquette,
Robert_MorrisRutgersSacred_HeartSaint_Joseph’s,SienaSt. John’sStony_BrookSyracuseTowsonUMBC, and Vermont.