Rutgers vs. Villanova
February 14, 2009
The Game Story:
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior midfielder Justin Pennington (Flemington, N.J.) and freshman Mike Diehl (Flemington, N.J.) scored two goals each for the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team, but a big fourth quarter clinched an 8-4 Villanova win in both teams season opener at the RU Turf Field Saturday afternoon.

The loss marks the first time Rutgers has dropped its season opener since 2002. It’s also the first ever win for the Wildcats over the Scarlet Knights as RU was a perfect 6-0 prior to Saturday’s meeting.

Rutgers outshot Villanova 39-28, but the Wildcats controlled the ball for much of the game and took advantage of 12 RU turnovers. Tim Driscoll tallied a game-high three goals and Paul Webber handed out a game-best three assists to lead Villanova.

“Villanova is a very patient team and they like to slow the game down to a walk, and unfortunately we weren’t very patient on the other end when we were able to get opportunities,” said head coach Jim Stagnitta. “We didn’t finish today. We never got into a flow offensively. Some of that had to do with us and some of that had to do with Villanova. They did a nice job of controlling the pace.”

Both teams struggled offensively early as the first goal of the game wasn’t recorded until Driscoll put Nova on the board at the 2:38 mark of the first quarter. Diehl quickly responded for Rutgers though, posting his first career goal with just under a minute to play in the opening period.

The Wildcats started the second quarter strong, tallying back-to-back goals to take a 3-1 advantage. Pennington, the 2009 Preseason ECAC Offensive Player of the Year, pulled RU to within one with his first goal of the year at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter. Villanova stole the momentum back going into the half when Driscoll scored with just 36 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the 4-2 edge at the intermission.

Rutgers would once again pull to within a goal as Diehl scored off a Pennington pass for his second goal of the day just over a minute into the third quarter. Villanova continued its trend of responding to RU scores though, netting the game’s next two goals to take a 6-3 advantage. Pennington posted his second goal of the day at the 10:29 mark of the fourth quarter to get Rutgers back to within two goals, but that would be as close as the Scarlet Knights would get.

Rutgers will be on the road for its next four games, starting on Wednesday at Manhattan. The game is set to begin at 3 p.m. The Scarlet Knights topped the Jaspers 13-2 last season at Yurcak Field.