Got a chance to talk with Villanova’s long stick midfielder and defensive leader Brian Karalunas the other day. The Syracuse native has 35 ground balls and 37 caused turnovers on the year and is a major reason behind the Wildcat’s turnaround from mid major C.A.A. team to a contender in the Big East Conference.
Karalunas is a guy that plays in the same conference as the best long stick midfielder in the country, Joel White, so it is easy to overlook the senior. Noone is overlooking him or the Wildcats now as they are off to a 7-1 record and recently knocked off Princeton.
I asked Brian about the changes he has seen over his tenure at Villanova University.
What have you seen over your four years as a Wildcat that has brought you guys to the point you are at today? How have you gone from a smaller CAA team, to a team that can beat some of the top teams in the country?
Brian Karalunas: Over the past four years the team has grown tremendously. Our off-season training program has been a large part of this improvement. Also, we've had the same core group of guys for a few years now. The more we play together the better we get.
I then turned the topic to the offensive leader for the Wildcats, Long Island native Kevin Cunningham. Cunningham is averaging four points per game and has 32 points on the year (20 goals, 12 assists).
BK: Kevin is sensational. He quarterbacks our offense and his lightening speed and ability to pass and shoot on the run makes him so hard to cover. He creates huge match-up problems for opposing defenses.
Next I asked Brian about the true test that lies ahead of him and his team this Saturday night when the #1 Syracuse Orange come to Villanova Stadium with a 6-0 record on the line.
BK: Syracuse is one of the premier programs in the country. They have a solid defense and a bunch of players who can bring it on the offensive side of the ball. It will take a team effort to beat them. We need to play fast and match their intensity.
Lastly, I asked him about what it will take for the Wildcats to finish the season strong and make it past the first round of the playoffs, a road block that stood in the way of the Wildcats in 2009 when they lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament to Virginia.
BK: To be successful it is important to build confidence based on our success but we also need to keep in mind that no one remembers a team's record halfway through the season. We need to continue to play fast and smart. We're confident in our abilities but we must improve every practice if we want to accomplish those goals.