Season Preview: Men’s lacrosse looks to run away in NEC

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Season Preview: Men’s lacrosse looks to run away in NEC

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Photo credit: David Auth

Jonathan Hanna, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP — After a near upset of No. 1 ranked Maryland in last year’s NCAA tournament, the Robert Morris men’s lacrosse team looks to get back in action this season. Here is a quick preview on all of the NEC teams this season.

The contenders

1) Robert Morris Colonials

Last year, the Colonials won the NEC Championship when they defeated Saint Joseph’s 9-8 in overtime. This season, Robert Morris was unanimously voted to win the NEC, however, the Colonials lost last year’s top scorer, Jimmy Perkins. Perkins scored 61 points (31g, 30a) in 18 games last year.

RMU will retain second-leading scorer Matt Schmidt. The current redshirt senior had 51 points (36g, 15a) last season. Another key returner is netminder Alex Heger. Heger was second in the NCAA last year with a .603 save percentage.

2) Sacred Heart Pioneers

Picked to finish third in the conference, the Pioneers are led by last year’s NEC Player of the Year in Max Tuttle. Tuttle led the league in goals and points with 45 and 64 respectively. Tuttle’s 45 goals were also ninth in the NCAA. Not far behind for the Pioneers was Joe Saggese, whose 41 goals and 63 points put him right behind Tuttle.

Where Sacred Heart may struggle however is in goal. In terms of goals against average last year, netminder Brooks Dutton was 52nd in the NCAA out of 65 eligible with an 11.53 average. Perhaps incoming freshman goalie Peter Callahan from Lighthouse Point, Florida will be able to give the Pioneers some stability in goal this season.

3) Bryant Bulldogs

Bryant was picked to finish second in the NEC in the preseason coaches poll. The Bulldogs will retain leading freshman scorer Mark O’Rourke. O’Rourke had 48 points (33g, 15a) last year. Bryant will also keep their starting goalkeeper from last year in Kevin Beimfohr. Beimfohr had a 9.60 goals against in 13 games played for the Bulldogs.

As a whole, the Bulldogs are a very young team, with only seven seniors on the roster and a freshman class of a whopping 13. It will be interesting to see if the Bulldogs inexperience and youth will come back to haunt them come postseason time

The dark horses

4) Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Although they were picked to finish sixth in the NEC by the coaches, I believe that the Hawks can surprise some people. Last year, the Hawks lost to the Colonials in the NEC Championship game and were 6-0 in conference play. Returning to the Hawks will be starting goaltender Mike Adler. Last year, Adler was third in the country with a .596 save percentage, and sixth in the country with 8.11 goals against average.

Where Saint Joseph might struggle, however, is in the goal-scoring department. The Hawks lost four of their top five scorers last year, due to graduation. Like Bryant, the Hawks will have to build from their youth, and Cole Peters is one to watch. The freshman midfielder from Baldwinsville, New York led his high school team with 32 goals his senior year.

Saint Joseph’s is also adding a new offensive coordinator in Scott Meehan. Meehan was formerly an assistant coach at Binghamton University and an offensive coordinator at Mount St. Mary’s.

5) Hobart Statesmen

Returning for Hobart this year will be last year’s leading scorer and NEC Rookie of the Year, Chris Aslanian. In 23 games last year, Aslanian had 47 points (23g, 24a). Also back for the Statesmen will be Matthew Pedicine, whose .659 faceoff winning percentage was second in the NEC, and sixth in the NCAA.

While Hobart doesn’t really have any weaknesses in terms of their team, they don’t have many strengths either. Most of their statistics from last year are around the mid of the pack in the NCAA. The Statesmen were picked to finish fourth in the NEC during the preseason coaches poll

6) Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

Although Mount St. Mary’s has only four seniors on the team, they didn’t lose many key players due to graduation, as the Mountaineers only had two seniors last year who logged any points for the team. Most of the offense came from underclassmen. Brenden McCarthy had 53 points (21g, 32a) as a sophomore, and Chris DiPretoro had 45 points (37g, 8a) as a junior.

The Mountaineers had a bit of a revolving door in goal last season. Four out of the five goalies on the roster played a game last year, with Dylan Furnback, Luke Mutterer and Matt Vierheller starting at least one game. Combined, the goalies had an 11.21 goals against average, and a 51.5 save percentage.

7) Wagner Seahawks

Picked to finish last in the NEC preseason poll, Wagner has a chance this year to be a complete question mark. After going 0-6 in the NEC play last year, seven-year head coach Matt Poskay stepped down and was replaced by Bill McCutcheon, who was an assistant coach at Monmouth University for five years.

Wagner will be without leading scorer Andrew Streilein, who graduated last year. He led the Seahawks with 34 points (22g, 12a). Wagner will have 10 incoming freshmen, including Kevin Cruz. As a member of the Flint Hill High School lacrosse team, Cruz scored 219 career points (155g, 64a) in four years.

 

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