BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship Begins Thursday

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The 2013 BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship will begin on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET. In the first semifinal, No. 2 seed Syracuse will take on No. 3 seed Notre Dame on ESPNU. Following that game, No. 1 seed Villanova will face off against No. 4 seed Georgetown on ESPN3. The championship will be held at Villanova Stadium in Villanova, Pa.


Villanova and Syracuse shared the regular-season title, with the Wildcats earning the No. 1 seed by virtue of an 11-10 win against the Orange on March 23.


The semifinal winners will play for the title on Saturday, May 4 at 12 p.m. on ESPNU.


Villanova (6-7, 5-1) earned a share of its first regular-season title with only one loss in league play. It was the first time in program history that the Wildcats earned the regular-season crown. The Wildcats wrapped up the regular season with a 19-11 win against Providence on April 27. Nine of the Wildcats' 13 opponents during the regular season were ranked in the top-20 nationally.  Heading into the postseason, VU is ranked No. 19 in the Nike media poll and No. 20  in the USILA Coaches' Poll. Villanova has balanced scoring offensively, with five players recording 20 or more points this season. Leading the way is Jack Rice's 30 points, which all came from goals. Goalie Reed Carlson has logged over 477 minutes as goalie, posting a 9.56 goals-against average.


Syracuse enters the postseason 11-3 overall and 5-1 in BIG EAST play. Syracuse is ranked in the top five in both national polls, as the Orange sit at No. 3 in the Nike media poll and No. 5 in the USILA Coaches' poll. SU has four wins over ranked opponents this season. SU's 10-4 win against Notre Dame on Saturday at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic in MetLife Stadium gave the Orange a share of the regular-season title. It is the third time in program history that Syracuse has won at least a share of the title, winning it outright in 2010 and 2011. JoJo Marasco's 47 points (17g, 30a) lead SU offensively, while Dominic Lamolinara has logged over 528 minutes in net, posting an 8.97 goals-against average. Syracuse is 5-0 against top-10 teams this season.


Notre Dame (10-3, 4-2 BIG EAST) earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament after falling to Syracuse 10-4 in both teams' regular season finale at the Konica Minolta Big City Classic. The Irish had won five-straight games heading into Saturday's game. Notre Dame is in the top 10 of both national polls, occupying the No. 5 slot in the Nike media poll and tied with Duke at the No. 6 spot in the USILA Coaches' poll. The Fighting Irish have defeated six ranked teams this season and are led offensively by Matt Kavanagh, who has 38 points on 25 goals and 13 assists. In the cage, goalie John Kemp has a 7.93 goals-against average and a .528 save percentage.


Georgetown (6-8, 3-3 BIG EAST) was the final seed to be determined and the Hoyas controlled their own fate, defeating Rutgers 15-7 to clinch the playoff berth. Reilly O'Connor leads the Hoyas offensively with 50 points on 23 goals and 27 assists. Jake Haley has been minding the net for Georgetown, posting a 10.82 goals-against average.


Georgetown and Villanova met earlier in the season, with the Wildcats posting an 8-6 victory on April 3.  Villanova used a 3-0 fourth-quarter run to capture the win. The Wildcats were led by John Kluh, who had three goals and one assist, while LoCascio matched a career-high with nine ground balls and four caused turnovers.For Georgetown, O'Connor had two goals and an assist, while senior Travis Comeau had a pair of goals. Haley made 13 saves in the loss.


The Syracuse/Notre Dame semifinal will be rematch of a game just played on April 27 as the teams will faceoff twice in six days. In Syracuse's 10-4 win against Notre Dame on Saturday, the Orange outscored the Irish 9-1 in the second half to take the victory. Dylan Donohue had a career-high four points (three goals, one assist), all of which came in the fourth quarter, and Kevin Rice had four points on one goal and three assists. Rice was named the Big City Classic Player of the Game. Defensively, Syracuse shut out the Irish for the final 19:58 and surrendered just one goal in the last 34:27 of the game. Kavanagh had two of Notre Dame's four goals.


Three of the four seeds (Notre Dame, Syracuse, Villanova) return to the BIG EAST Championship in the event's second year, while the Hoyas, making their first trip, are led by first-year head coach Kevin Warne. 


In the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, Syracuse defeated St. John's in the tournament's title game to earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The Orange defeated host school Villanova in the semifinals, while St. John's upset top-seeded Notre Dame to advance to the championship final.  Last year was the first year of the BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship.