PREVIEW: Men's lacrosse to face No. 5 Merrimack in NE10 First Round

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Saint Anselm College men's lacrosse team has qualified for the Northeast-10 Conference playoffs and will take on nationally-ranked Merrimack at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 27 in NE10 First Round action.

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The game will be played in North Andover, Mass. at Duane Stadium. Tickets will be $6 for adults with children and senior citizens charged $4 for entry. Students from any NE10 member institution will be admitted for $1 with valid college or university identification.

SETTING THE STAGE: Saint Anselm, the sixth seed in the upcoming Northeast-10 Championship, takes on the third-seeded Warriors in a rematch of last season's league title match. The Hawks, receiving votes in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association national poll, fell to the eventual NCAA Division II national champions in the 2018 NE10 Championship game by an 11-7 margin.

In 2019, the Hawks have posted a 7-6 overall record with five of those losses coming to nationally-ranked opponents. After a slow start to open NE10 play, the Hawks have come on strong leading into the postseason, earning three consecutive victories that included a clutch 12-10 victory over No. 19 Assumption on Saturday, a team that battled for a postseason berth alongside the Hawks.

The Warriors own one of the nation's most prolific offenses, ranking second in the country in points per game (27.21) and turnovers per game (14.57). Senior Charlie Bertrand leads all of NCAA Division II in goals per game (5.27) and points per game (6.64) with sophomore Sean Black leading the country in assists per game (3.77).

Despite such offensive power, the Hawks and Warriors have played to close scores in three of the previous five meetings. Since a narrow 13-12 loss to Merrimack on Apr. 30, 2016, the Hawks fell to the Warriors by the aforementioned 11-7 margin and, earlier this season, dropped an 18-12 contest at home on Apr. 2.

The 12 goals against Merrimack earlier this season is tied for the second-most scored against the Warriors by an NE10 opponent in 2019. Saint Anselm will try to snap a 15-game losing skid to the Warriors that dates back to a 9-4 Hawks win on Apr. 11, 2007.

LAST TIME OUT: The tandem of midfielders Anthony Busconi (Watertown, Mass.) and Matt Ward (Shrewsbury, Mass.) combined to score eight goals against the College of Saint Rose on the way to a convincing 19-11 victory over the Golden Knights.

Busconi finished the game with six points, scoring four goals and two assists (4-2=6). Ward stepped up with four goals and an assist (4-1=5), firing a game-high 12 shots. Sophomore Thomas Mapstone (Andover, Mass.) fired home his first goal of the 2019 season and matched Ward with a team-high six ground balls.

Senior Xavier Quinn (Rye, N.H.) chipped in with three goals and two assists for five points (3-2=5) and sophomore Sean Tomaszewski (Arlington, Mass.) logged a hat trick in the third quarter alone, adding an assist in the fourth quarter as well. Senior Patrick Sweeney (North Andover, Mass.) also struck for three goals in the winning effort.

Sophomore Griffin Shoemaker (Shirley, Mass.) tallied a goal and an assist with freshman Jack Wells (Melrose, Mass.) posting one assist in the game. Each member of the starting lineup recorded at least one ground ball.

The Hawks finished with the 58-to-43 edge in shots taken. Both teams posted equal ground ball totals (33-to-33) with Saint Rose's final tally aided by winning 21 of the game's 34 face-offs. Saint Anselm committed only 14 miscues in the contest.

Senior backstop Nick Richard (Hampstead, N.H.) made 13 saves on 24 shots, earning the victory in goal for the Hawks.

SCOUTING SAINT ANSELM

  • The Hawks enter play with a three-game winning streak, the second-longest active streak in the conference (Le Moyne, W7).
  • The Hawks score with the man advantage on 37.8% of their opportunities, the fourth-best rate in the NE10 while ranking 14th in NCAA Division II.
  • Saint Anselm clears the ball with an 89.3% success rate, the nation's 15th-best figure.
  • The Hawks have averaged 14.08 goals per game through 13 contests, a program record.
  • In program history, this season's average of 20.62 points per game on offense is the fourth-highest figure. The squad's 183 goals is the second-most in one season, trailing only last season's figure of 202 set across 16 contests.
  • Sweeney ranks seventh on the all-time point scoring leaderboard for Saint Anselm, tallying 119 goals and 44 assists for 163 points (119-44=163). He recently became only the fifth student-athlete to reach 100 career goals in a Hawks uniform and has struck for 10 game-winning goals in his career, the most by any Hawks student-athlete since 2005.
  • Sweeney has scored 57 points of offense this season, the sixth-most in a campaign in program history. He trails the all-time leader, Justin Shairs, by only 11 points (47-22=69) – he accomplished the feat in the 2002 season.
  • Sweeney's 5.08 points per game stands as the top figure in program history, passing the 4.93 points per game set by Ryan Mee in 2014. He has a 33-game point scoring streak that dates back to his sophomore season and has logged at least one goal in all but two of those contests.
  • Among active NCAA Division II student-athletes, Sweeney is 14th with 119 career goals to his credit.
  • Busconi ranks second on the Hawks with 28 goals and nine assists for 37 points, scoring two man-up goals for Saint Anselm. His 2.15 goals per game stands as the 14th-most in the NE10.
  • Ward is sixth in the NE10 with seven man-up goals, ranking in the top-20 nationally, and needs only one goal with the extra man to match Ryan Mee's 2013 single-season program record. He has scored 27 times in 13 games.
  • Tomaszewski has logged 23 goals and 15 assists for 38 points (23-15=38) in what has been a breakout season for the sophomore, who posted only seven points of offense (3-4=7) as a first-year member of the program in 2018.
  • Key members of the defense, Mapstone and senior Christopher Tully (Andover, Mass.) are tied for the Hawks lead with 11 caused turnovers to date. He has reeled in 41 ground balls with senior Matteo Olsen (Westford, Vt.) trailing with 33 ground balls. Tully has also picked up 18 ground balls on the year.
  • Sophomore Allen Jarabek (Fall River, Mass.) has secured 70 ground balls to date, the seventh-most by a student-athlete in one season.
  • Richard has posted 276 career saves, needing only 22 more to crack the program's top-10 list. He recently moved to second all-time on the team's career wins list with a 17-9 record for the Hawks during his career.

SCOUTING MERRIMACK

  • The reigning NE10 and NCAA Division II Champions, Merrimack has sprinted out to a 12-2 record and capped the league's regular season with a 10-1 mark against conference foes.
  • The Warriors posted a 17-16 loss to then 10th ranked LIU Post on Mar. 9 before most recently dropping a 17-8 decision to No. 3 Adelphi on Apr. 20.
  • Merrimack leads all of NCAA Division II in shot percentage (39.7%) while ranking second in fewest turnovers per game (14.64), man-up offense (50%) and points per game (27.21). The squad is third in the country with 10.57 assists per game.
  • Bertrand leads all players nationwide with 73 points, scoring 58 goals and 15 assists in just 11 contests played. Black is fourth in the country with 5.69 points per game, logging a nation-leading 3.77 assists per contests.
  • Among active NCAA Division II student-athletes, Bertrand's 172 career goals is the second-most in the nation and Black's 5.38 points per game is also the second-best figure among current athletes.
  • Sophomore Christian Thomas is 10th in NCAA Division II with 2.36 assists per game and is 17th nationally with 4.71 points per game.
  • The Warriors enter play with 22 consecutive victories at home, the longest winning streak in all of NCAA Division II.

NE10 POSTSEASON ALL-TIME

  • Saint Anselm is 5-13 in the NE10 tournament since becoming a varsity team in 1994. Last season, the Hawks opened the postseason with a win over Saint Rose, its first conference playoff victory since 2009.
  • After cruising past Saint Rose in the First Round last season, the Hawks handed the top-ranked team in the country, Le Moyne, its first loss of the year and earned the right to battle the Warriors.
  • Saint Anselm is 0-3 against Merrimack in the NE10 playoffs since the first meeting between both programs in 2007.

THE SCIAMANNA FILE

  • Head Coach Michael Sciamanna has guided the Hawks to a 34-23 (.596) overall record since joining the team prior to the 2015-16 campaign.
  • Sciamanna inherited a program that posted a 2-11 record in 2015 and has since made four consecutive NE10 postseason appearances, starting with an 8-6 record in the 2016 season.
  • Under his direction, the Hawks have become regulars in the USILA Division II Coaches' Poll and began the season as the No. 13 team in the nation, its highest record to begin the year.

ALL-TIME vs. MERRIMACK

  • Merrimack owns a 26-3 record against Saint Anselm dating back to the Hawks first-ever varsity game on Apr. 6, 1994, a 17-9 loss to the Warriors.