VILLANOVA, Pa. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team has enjoyed plenty of fantastic finishes this season, but the one that the Quakers pulled off at Villanova on Saturday might have topped them all.
Down, 11-7, in the fourth quarter, the Red and Blue rallied with five unanswered goals over the game’s final eight minutes and eked past the Wildcats, 12-11.
In this increasingly fierce rivalry – this was the fourth time in five years one goal decided the outcome – Penn improved to 3-1 on the young season with Ivy rival Princeton on the horizon.
Villanova’s Johnny Gallaway opened the scoring for Villanova, but the Quakers got goals from Jeff Puckette and Kevin Brown just 1:02 apart to take a 2-1 lead midway through the first quarter. However, Gallaway finished a Jack Curran feed, then Tim Mulrenan made it 3-2 in the Wildcats’ favor before opening period ended.
Villanova (1-3) extended its lead to 5-2 in the second period, as Mulrenan scored a pair of goals (assists going to John LoCascio and Kevin O’Neil). Nick Doktor got one of the goals back for the Quakers, but O’Neil netted his first of the day with just 14 seconds left in the half and the teams went to the locker rooms with the Wildcats up, 6-3.
Eric Gartner opened the third-quarter scoring with an unassisted goal, putting Villanova up 7-3, but the Quakers rallied with four unanswered goals over a span of 3:11 to tie the game. Isaac Bock started the run off a Joe McCallion feed, then McCallion found Austin Kreinz for his first goal of the game. Pat Berkery made it a one-goal game off a Zack Losco feed, and then Doktor netted his second off a Puckette feed.
Villanova recovered. Less than a minute after Doktor tied it, Kurtis Naslonski put the Wildcats back in front with an unassisted goal, then nearly four minutes later Chris Piccirilli doubled the lead off an O’Neil feed. The teams went to the final quarter with the ‘Cats up, 9-7.
Gallaway made it 10-7 early in the fourth quarter, finishing a feed from Austin Frederick, and then less than a minute later O’Neil made it 11-7 with an assist going to Curran.
Penn made it 11-8 with 8:05 left when Berkery netted his second, unassisted. Less than two minutes later, Drew Belinsky scored his first of the game, unassisted. Chris Hupfeldt then made it a one-goal game with 5:15 still to play off a feed from Isaac Bock. Then the senior duo of Losco and Belinsky knotted the score, the former feeding the latter for his second of the game.
With exactly two minutes left, McCallion gave the Quakers their first lead since 2-1 when he finished a feed from Belinsky. That proved to be enough.
Penn opens Ivy League play next Saturday at archrival Princeton, facing off with the Tigers at 3 p.m.