Preview: Men’s lacrosse looking to clinch trip to NEC tournament against Hobart

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Preview: Men’s lacrosse looking to clinch trip to NEC tournament against Hobart

Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Photo credit: Katey Ladika

Ryan Giacobbi, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP — The Robert Morris men’s lacrosse team (6-7, 3-2 NEC) concludes their 2019 regular season on Saturday at Joe Walton Stadium in a do-or-die game against the Hobart University Statesmen (10-3, 4-1 NEC) in a final bid to clinch a trip to the Northeast Conference Tournament.

Recapping RMU

Robert Morris is coming off of a 20-16 win over the Bryant University Bulldogs (3-11, 1-5 NEC), which has propelled the RMU squad to be placed in a three-way tie for third place in the NEC. The other teams tied with the Colonials for third are St. Joseph’s University and Sacred Heart University, all of these teams have an overall conference record of 3-2. The game against Bryant happened to be the Colonials’ fifth straight win, rebounding from a detrimental five-game losing streak that occurred in the first half of the regular season. Due to the three-way tie, if RMU wins their game on Saturday, they will clinch a spot to the tournament. If Robert Morris loses, they will be finished with their 2019 season and go home for the summer.

Looking at the Bryant game, Brad McCulley headlined the game by scoring five goals for Robert Morris. After Bryant took a 5-1 lead in the first quarter, RMU stormed back to take an 8-5 lead by the start of the second quarter, and they never looked back. With 51 shot attempts and 29 shots-on-goal as a team, the combined efforts helped the Colonials as the season winds down. As mentioned before, this game against Bryant was the fifth consecutive win, so Robert Morris will be looking to keep the magic going against one of the two division leaders on Saturday.

Scouting Hobart

Looking at what Hobart has done up until now, they are coming off a win against the other Northeast Conference leader, that being the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers. Since Hobart and the Mountaineers are tied in the conference with a 4-1 record, Hobart will be able to reach the NEC tournament regardless of the outcome that will transpire from Saturday’s contest against the Colonials. Hobart is going to try to hold off Robert Morris at Joe Walton Stadium to hopefully keep the momentum as they head into the conference tournament.

In the game against MSM, Hobart made 51 shots with 23 shots-on-goal. Chris Aslanian brought the Hobart team to life in that game by scoring five goals against the Mountaineers. When Aslanian and the rest of Hobart reach Robert Morris, they will have to keep their minds on the task at hand.

Players to Watch

Brad McCulley (RMU): McCulley may not have the most stupendous amount of goals picked up through the 2019 season, but he performed very admirably against the Bulldogs to be named the RMU Student-Athlete of the Week. He managed to pick up five goals in the win, which also happened to be a season-high best for the redshirt sophomore midfielder. For the 2019 season, McCulley has gathered 13 goals with one assist for a total of 14 points with 28 shots and 17 shots-on-goal. If McCulley’s performance against the Bulldogs was anything to be excited about, then RMU will be looking for another huge performance from him if the Colonials are to clinch a spot to the NEC tournament.

Corson Kealey (RMU): Kealey has gone from a silent contributor to a potential playoff-bound midfielder. Through his first three games of the year, Kealey only picked up four goals. Through six different games this year, Kealey has scored four goals or more. The games where Kealey has scored at least four goals were against High Point, Marquette, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s, Wagner and Bryant. Given the fact that Kealey has been able to accomplish scoring four goals in multiple games this year, it can be expected that Kealey will try to deliver another strong performance against Hobart in the bid for the tournament.

Eric Holden (Hobart): Holden is an attacker that Robert Morris needs to keep on a leash if RMU plans on trying to clinch for the NEC tournament. So far in 2019, Holden has scored 37 goals with 16 assists to gain a total of 53 points. Holden has scored an impressive seven goals in a single game this season, those seven were scored in Hobart’s season opener against the Canisius Golden Griffins. Holden has consistently been able to provide a steady offense for his team, but he hasn’t been able to score as many goals since the seven he scored at the very beginning of the 2019 season. Ever since February 22 against Cornell, Holden has been able to score at least one goal for the Statesmen, so the Colonials will need to be on their guard to hold Holden back.

Chris Aslanian (Hobart): Aslanian is a senior attacker who doesn’t have as many goals as Holden, but is still rather a strong attacker for Hobart. Aslanian has scored 21 goals and dished out 31 assists for a total of 52 points. He also has 76 shots with 41 shots-on-goal, so while Aslanian doesn’t have as many goals, he makes up for it in the shots he has, which is what RMU will be focusing on to prevent him from scoring anything on Saturday.

Prediction

My final prediction is that Robert Morris is going to fall flat against the Statesmen and lose the game, failing to reach the NEC tournament after a remarkable 2018 season. My final score prediction is 19-11. The reason for this is because Hobart has a record of 10-3 and the Colonials had a very up-and-down year given how the Colonials had a five-game losing streak and then a five-game winning streak, whereas the Statesmen have been more consistent with 10 wins on the season. They are tied with Mount St. Mary’s with a conference record of 4-1, so the good fortune that Hobart has and the unexpectedness that RMU has had will lead to Hobart winning against the Colonials.

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