NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Saint Anselm College men's lacrosse team concluded its season with a 14-8 loss to the fifth-ranked Warriors from Merrimack College on Saturday in the First Round of the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament.
Sixth-seeded Saint Anselm, receiving votes in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) national poll, caps its season with a 7-7 overall record. Merrimack, seeded third and ranked fifth in the nation by the USILA, ups its record to 13-2 and will take on second-seeded Le Moyne on Wednesday, May 1 at 3 p.m. in Syracuse, N.Y.
Seniors Patrick Sweeney (North Andover, Mass.) and Anthony Busconi (Watertown, Mass.) capped stellar four-year careers with two goals apiece in the game. Sophomore Matt Ward (Shrewsbury, Mass.) notched a goal and an assist and was joined on the goal-scoring list by senior Xavier Quinn (Rye, N.H.), freshman Jack Wells (Melrose, Mass.) and sophomore Griffin Shoemaker (Shirley, Mass.).
In 58 career games on the Hilltop, Sweeney finished a four-year career with 121 goals and 45 assists for 166 points (121-45=166), tying for fifth on the all-time points list. One of only five student-athletes to score at least 100 goals, Sweeney notched 45 assists to rank eighth on the all-time assists list. He departs with an active point-scoring streak of 34 consecutive games.
Busconi will depart with 135 career points (92-43=135), the eighth most in program history. His 92 goals as the sixth-most in team history and his 43 assists are the eighth-highest total. His 2.93 points per game is the sixth-most in program history.
The Hawks knotted the game at one early in the game with Wells' eighth goal of the season, but Merrimack had back-to-back strikes from Christian Thomas to build a 3-1 lead. Despite a Sweeney goal with eight ticks left in the first quarter, Merrimack rattled off five of the game's next six goals to create an 8-3 lead with 5:16 left in the opening half.
Still down by five with 9:39 to go in the third quarter, Merrimack finished off a run of four consecutive goals to establish a game-high lead of eight with 10:32 to go in regulation time. Busconi and Ward scored their 30th and 28th goals of the season, respectively, in the game's final five minutes, but Merrimack held on for the six-goal victory.
Thomas finished the day with four goals and three assists for Merrimack, who held edges in shots taken (42-to-30), ground balls (49-to-21), and face-off victories (21-to-5). One of the nation's most potent offenses with the extra man was held to only 2-for-7 scoring in those scenarios.
Senior Nick Richard (Hampstead, N.H.) made 13 saves on 27 shots, drawing the loss for Saint Anselm. He finishes ranked eighth in program history with a 53.2% save percentage for the Hawks. The tandem of Nick Ponte and Peter Brown combined to make 10 stops on 18 shots for the Warriors.