Denver, Villanova Advance to BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship

Devin McNamara scored twice to pace Villanova

Devin McNamara scored twice to pace Villanova

May 1, 2014

Championship Central | Denver 14, Rutgers 7 (Box) | Villanova 9, Marquette 6 (Box) | Photo Gallery

VILLANOVA, Pa. - There was a little bit of everything on display at Villanova Stadium Thursday afternoon and evening during the 2014 BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship presented by New York Life. In the end, it was the top seed and the host who advanced to Saturday's BIG EAST Championship game.

No. 1 seed Denver (13-2) used three offensive runs to blow open a 2-2 game en route to a 14-7 victory over fourth-seeded Rutgers (8-8), while No. 3 seed and host Villanova (6-9) scored two goals early in the fourth quarter to stymie a Marquette run and defeat the Golden Eagles (6-10) 9-6 in the nightcap.

The Pioneers and Wildcats will meet Saturday at 4:30 p.m. with the 2014 BIG EAST Championship and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth on the line.

Denver (13-2) used a methodical approach to build a 5-2 halftime lead before erupting for six third-quarter goals to put away Rutgers 14-7 in the opener. Wes Berg led all scorers with five goals and seven points while Erik Adamson logged a hat trick and five points and Jack Bobzien scored twice. Ryan LaPlante made allowed two goals and stopped seven shots in the first 30 minutes to improve to 9-0 on the season.

Berg's goal and point totals tied tournament single-game records.

Brian Goss and Steve DiGiovanni netted two goals apiece for Rutgers. Scott Bieda chipped in three assists, and Scott Klimchak, Nick DePaolera and Anthony Terranova scored one a piece. Jake Anderson suffered the loss in net to finish the season 2-2 after allowing 11 goals and making 11 stops in the first 45 minutes. Kris Alleyne played the fourth quarter and made three spots while allowing three goals.

Denver snapped a 2-all tie early in the second quarter with a 4-0 run, and added a second 4-0 run and a 3-0 stretch to blow the game open in the second half.

The teams traded 2-0 runs before Denver's four-goal run made it 6-2 Pios with 10:47 left in the third. DiGiovanni's goal snapped the run - briefly - before Berg's fourth of the game ignited another 4-0 Denver run.

After DiGiovanni's second of the game with 1:21 left in the third brought Rutgers within 10-4, Berg struck again to kick off three straight Denver goals.

Denver outshot Rutgers 41-36 but held a distinct 35-22 advantage in ground balls. A big reason for that was Denver's success at the X led by Chris Hampton's 16-of-24 effort, getting the better of Rutgers' Joe Nardella, a second-team All-BIG EAST selection at face-off specialist. Nardella went 7-of-20.

The Pios went 3-of-7 with the extra man, while Rutgers was 1-of-3.

In the nightcap, Devin McNamara scored twice, Dan Willis came up with nine saves and seven other goal scorers powered Villanova to the 9-6 win over Marquette. The Wildcats dominated the stat sheet 42-26 in shots and 38-21 in ground balls while beating the Golden Eagles 14-5 at the X.

Six Marquette players provided the scoring, with Bryan Badolato, Conor Gately, Kyle Whitlow, Noah Joseph, Kyran Clarke and Blaine Fleming denting the twine. Jimmy Danaher stopped 10 shots and suffered the loss to fall to 5-7.

After Whitlow's unassisted goal opened the scoring with 6:06 left in the first, Villanova went on a 4-0 run capped by Thomas Croonquist's unassisted tally five seconds into the second. Clarke answered for Marquette before two straight Wildcat goals made it a 6-2 game at the half.

Badolato's goal off a Gately assist sparked a 4-1 Marquette run in the third quarter to make it a 7-6 game after 45 minutes, and the Golden Eagles were looking to keep the momentum going into the fourth. But Matt McIver's unassisted goal 49 seconds into the frame and John LoCascio's strike eight seconds later killed the Marquette rally.

Then the rains came. And the lightning. A 74-minute delay forced players off the field and fans out of the stadium. No goals were scored after play resumed.