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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 18 Penn State men's lacrosse team will return to action on Saturday (March 31) when it hosts No. 12/13 Villanova in its final non-conference game of the season at the Penn State Lacrosse Field. Opening faceoff is slated at 1 p.m.
With five games remaining in the regular season, the Nittany Lions will face the Wildcats in their final non-conference matchup before closing out the season with four league games. Penn State currently sits at 4-5 overall (1-1 CAA) and has played arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country. The Nittany Lions have faced seven ranked opponents, including four top-10 teams, while the Wildcats will represent Penn State's eighth ranked foe of the 2012 campaign.
The Nittany Lions will take the nation's ninth-ranked defense into the game, allowing 7.88 goals per game. Sophomore Austin Kaut (Morton) has anchored the unit and ranks sixth in the nation in save percentage and 10th in goals-against average. Senior midfielder Ryan Link (Englewood, Colo.) and freshmen defensemen JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.) and Jack Donnelly (Toronto, Ont.) have collected nine caused turnovers each.
Penn State also boasts four student-athletes with at least 10 points. Senior attackman Jack Forster (Jenkintown) has produced a team-leading 22 points (15g, 7a), while classmate Matthew Mackrides (Newtown Square) ranks second on the team with 18 points (13g, 5a). Junior midfielder Nick Dolik (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and sophomore attackman Shane Sturgis (Downingtown) round out the team's leading scorers with 11 (10g, 1a) and 10 points (5g, 5a), respectively.
The Wildcats (5-3, 1-0 BIG EAST) will enter Saturday's matchup following an 11-10 victory against then-No. 9 Syracuse. Villanova has been led offensively by a trio of upperclassmen, including junior Will Casertano, who paces the squad with 24 points (10g, 14a). Classmate Kevin Cunningham has recorded 20 points, while junior Jack Rice has registered 18.
Senior goalkeeper Dan Gutierrez has been the goalie of record for each game and has posted a 10.36 goals-against average and .494 save percentage.
The Nittany Lions are 14-3 all-time against Villanova but have dropped the last two matchups. Penn State last defeated the Wildcats during the 2009 season.