Sports

Villanova’s third-quarter run downs men’s lacrosse

Luke McCaleb ’20 leads Bears with five goals, one assist in midweek non-conference loss

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, March 10, 2017

Heading into its final non-conference game against Villanova Tuesday, the men’s lacrosse team looked to bounce back from consecutive losses and gain momentum before beginning Ivy League play Mar. 18. Despite keeping the game close throughout most of the contest, Bruno (1-3) could not recover after conceding seven goals in the third quarter and fell to the Wildcats 17-15.

“We were disappointed with the result against Rutgers,” said Jack Kniffin ’20, who currently ranks second on the team in scoring. “We wanted to come out strong against Villanova and pull out a win.”

Villanova (2-4) struck first. Despite the Bears winning the opening face-off, the Wildcats made the most out of a turnover by co-Captain and 2016 All-American Dylan Molloy ’17. Villanova took over possession and scored on its third shot on goal with 12:54 on the clock. The Wildcats then won the ensuing faceoff and again capitalized, with Kurtis Naslonski rifling a shot past Bruno’s first-year goalie, Phil Goss ’20, just 14 seconds later.

But the Bears fought back in the first period, with two goals apiece from attackmen Steve Hudak ’18 and Luke McCaleb ’20 and another from Michael Panepinto ’19. After this 5-1 run, Bruno took a three-goal lead heading into the end of the first. During the stretch, Molloy also dealt two assists.

In the second quarter, Villanova’s attack rallied. Despite Brown winning nine of nine faceoffs, the Wildcats responded with a 5-3 run of their own to tie the game at eight going into halftime. Villanova took 19 shots on goal to the Bears’ nine and only committed two turnovers to the Bears’ six.

“We came out pretty well,” Kniffin said. “If we can play the full 60 minutes like we did at the start and end of the game, we will put ourselves in a better position to win some games.”

Villanova’s offense continued to roll in the third period. The Bears opened up scoring in the second half after Molloy beat Nick Testa with an unassisted goal. But Villanova answered, tying the game at nine with 11:37 to go before going on a 6-2 run to bring the score to 15-11 heading into the final period.

The Bears struggled to come back from this momentum swing. Jack Curran increased the Wildcats’ lead to five with 12 minutes remaining, a deficit that proved insurmountable for Bruno. With 4:32 left, McCaleb cut into Villanova’s lead with his fifth goal of the game and then assisted midfielder Matt Graham ’17 a minute later for a score. As the clock wound down, the Bears could not overcome the two-goal deficit, as the Wildcats drained the clock with under a minute to go after winning the final faceoff.

“We hustled and competed throughout the whole game,” Hudak said, who notched his second career hat trick in the contest. “Our team is going to continue to work hard every day in practice and just focus on continuing to get better each day.”

Kniffin noted that the team has room for improvement of “fundamentals.”

“If we can eliminate unnecessary mistakes from our game, we will definitely be in a better position for success,” Kniffin said. “We have a solid break coming up with no games this weekend. We will definitely look at the film and identify weaknesses in our play.”

The Bears continue their season Saturday with their first conference game of the year against Harvard. Last year, Brown played the Crimson on two occasions — once in the regular season, an 11-8 victory, and then again in a 13-12 loss in the semi-final of the Ivy League Tournament.

“We are very excited for Ivy League play to begin,” Hudak said. “We are making strides in the right direction toward becoming the team we know we can be.”