BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship Gets Underway Thursday

Tyler Melnyk and Marquette take on Villanova in Thursday's second semifinal.

Tyler Melnyk and Marquette take on Villanova in Thursday's second semifinal.

May 1, 2014

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – The stakes are the highest they’ve been all season, and now Denver, Marquette, Rutgers and Villanova converge on Villanova Stadium with an opportunity to claim a BIG EAST Championship and extend their seasons into the NCAA Tournament.

The 2014 BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Championship presented by New York Life begins with Thursday’s semifinal games. Top-seeded Denver (12-2) ran the table in the conference to a 6-0 mark and will play No. 4 Rutgers (8-7, 3-3 BIG EAST) at 4:30 p.m., while No. 2 Marquette (6-9, 4-2) takes on third seed and host Villanova (5-9, 3-3) in the nightcap. Fans can watch the Denver-Rutgers matchup here, while the Marquette-Villanova game will be available here.

Both games will stream live for free on BIGEAST.com, with Ross Mobile Productions handling the production. New York collegiate-sports fixture Pat O’Keefe will be the play-by-play announcer, with analysis provided by Terry Mangan, former Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2010 during his time at Lafayette.

Saturday’s championship game is set for 4:30 p.m. and will air live nationally on FOX Sports 1. Jason Knapp will call the action, with Ron Zwerin as the analyst. The winner earns an automatic berth to the 18-team NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament that begins next week.

BIG EAST Semifinals Quick Notes

• Rutgers defeated Georgetown 12-8 Saturday on the road to clinch the No. 4 seed. It’s the Scarlet Knights’ first appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament and came after defeating the Hoyas for the first time in 17 meetings.

• The Scarlet Knights feature one of the nation’s top face-off men. Joseph Nardella was named second-team All-BIG EAST Tuesday by the head coaches. He’s second in the conference in face-off wins (199) and win percentage (.650).

• Denver is the tournament’s No. 1 seed after going 6-0 in BIG EAST games. One team has gone unbeaten in conference play in every season of BIG EAST men’s lacrosse with the exception of 2013, when Villanova and Syracuse tied for first at 5-1.

• The Pioneers are in their first season in the conference and are ranked second in both the USILA and Warrior Inside Lacrosse media polls out Monday.

• Marquette qualified for the BIG EAST Tournament in its first year as a conference member. The Golden Eagles played their first Division I season last year as an independent and went 5-8. They’re 6-9 entering the tournament and garnered the No. 2 seed with a 4-2 conference mark with wins over Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers and St. John’s.

• Villanova settled for the No. 3 seed after falling 11-10 in double overtime to Providence Saturday. A win would have given the Wildcats the No. 2 seed, but all that would have changed was jersey color. Rutgers’ victory over Georgetown assured a Villanova-Marquette matchup in Thursday’s semifinal round.

• Villanova features reigning two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year John LoCascio. Regarded as one of the best long stick midfielders in the country, LoCascio was picked 26th in January’s MLL draft by Rochester, and was the third conference player chosen.

• Twenty-six players earned All-BIG EAST honors earlier this week, and 20 of them will play in Thursday’s two semifinal games.

• This is the third BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Tournament. Syracuse won each of the last two. Last season, the Orange defeated Villanova 13-9 in the final.

• FOX Sports 1 will handle the national television broadcast of Saturday’s championship game beginning at 4:30 p.m. It’s part of a full afternoon of BIG EAST lacrosse action on the FOX family of networks. The women’s lacrosse championship game will air on FOX Sports 2 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

BIG EAST General Notes

• St. John’s senior Kieran McArdle became the first player in conference history to repeat as Attack Player of the Year. He finished his season leading the BIG EAST in goals (40), assists (40) and points (80) and is now the career leader at St. John’s in all three categories.

• Providence snapped a 10-game skid with Saturday’s 11-10 double-overtime win at Villanova.

• Georgetown bids farewell to one of the most successful face-off man in program history. Graduate student Tyler Knarr went 20-of-24 at the X on Saturday in a 12-8 loss to Rutgers. He is the Hoyas’ single-season record holder with 207 face-off wins and 153 ground balls. He’s second in program history with 463 wins at the X and 308 ground balls, trailing Andy Corno in both categories.