Just two days short of playing in the NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship for the second year in a row, the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team saw six of its student-athletes receive the highest honor possible in the form of their inclusion on the 2018 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA)/Nike Division II All-America Teams, as announced Friday morning.
The Warriors were tied for the nationwide lead with those six selections and had the outright lead with four first team selections. It marks the fourth straight year that Merrimack boasted six All-Americans, tying a single-season school record. Even more impressive was the fact that most-represented team among the USILA’s major awards, with sophomore Charlie Bertrand leading the way.
Bertrand – a first team selection at attack – not only was named the Lt. Col. J.I. Turnbull Award winner for the nation’s most outstanding attackman; he also was named the co-winner of the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Outstanding Player award, representing the nation’s most valuable player, for all intents and purposes. He shared that honor with Le Moyne midfielder Danny Entenmann.
Also hauling in major awards were seniors Blake Boudreau and Hunter Schmell, both of whom were also first team selections. Boudreau was lauded as the nation’s Specialty Award Winner for faceoff specialists, while Schmell garnered the same accolade for short stick defensive midfielders.
Joining those three on the All-America First Team was senior James Bassett, last year’s USILA Defensive Player of the Year. Senior Jack Trask saw his name called at the second team midfield unit; finally, freshman sensation Sean Black was named an Honorable Mention All-American at attack to round out the Warriors’ six honorees.
Claiming the program’s first overall USILA Player of the Year honor since former All-American Corey Lunney ’13, Bertrand made it two for two for his career in terms of being named an All-American; he moves up to the first team unit after debuting as a second team selection last spring. He represents one of the nation’s most potent scorers, one that teams have had few answers for all year. He will finish as the league’s leader in goals scored, currently owning 58 tallies on the year while ranking fifth nationally averaging 3.41 goals per game. He also ranks 11th nationally in scoring average (4.41). Overall, the sophomore has 75 points (58g, 17a) and has had at least three goals in 11 games and at least two points in every single contest, featuring four seven-plus-point outings during that span.
After earning honorable mention honors last year, Boudreau solidified himself as one of the nation’s best faceoff specialists with his representation as a First Team All-American this spring. His phenomenal year on the X has seen him rank in the top-10 all year in faceoff winning percentage, currently slotted seventh with a 68.1-percent success rate. He has won 275-of-404 on the X, including a 19-for-19 showing against NYIT in the national quarterfinals and 17 more wins against Seton Hill in the semifinals. He also ranks seventh nationally in ground balls per game (9.17). His resume this spring features featuring nine games with 15 or more faceoff wins – including a 24-of-28 showing in a win over Saint Anselm earlier in the year and the aforementioned 19-for-19 clip against NYIT.
Schmell also elevated to the All-America First Team group after debuting as a second team honoree last year. One of the top two-way players in the country, he has been a vitally important piece of the transition game at defensive short stick midfield. His versatility over 18 games features a stat line that includes 28 ground balls and eight caused turnovers to bolster his resume in the middle third of the field, while he certainly hasn’t shied away from adding an occasional scoring touch, contributing nine points on seven goals and two assists. Perhaps his most important contributions come in the defensive third, where he continues to shine in helping the Warriors post some of the best defensive figures in program history.
This year’s New England Player of the Year, Bassett – who was the USILA Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 – has had another banner season that has seen him rank among the country’s elite defenders, earning his second straight First Team All-America selection in the process. He has 14 caused turnovers on the year and has also added 36 ground balls. More importantly, he has led a defensive unit that ranks fourth nationally and second in the NE10 allowing only 7.39 goals per game, among the best such figures in single-season program history. Merrimack’s man-down defense is also among the nation’s best, ranking sixth nationally by turning away 81.0 percent of opponents’ man-up chances. The Warriors have also held 15-of-18 opponents to single-digit goal totals this spring.
Trask has enjoyed fantastic comeback campaign after missing nearly all of last spring, earning his second career All-America honor after earning a spot on the third team back in 2016. He has recorded 29 points in 17 games on the strength of 22 goals and seven helpers. He has posted seven multi-goal games and four hat tricks. A team-high eight of those goals have been of the man-up variety, and he has also contributed 13 ground balls. He had a season-high five points in Merrimack’s blowout win over NYIT in the national quarterfinals.
Black, the NE10 Rookie of the Year, has led Merrimack and the Northeast-10 Conference in scoring nearly wire-to-wire, putting together numbers that topped Bertrand’s historic rookie campaign to earn Honorable Mention All-America honors. Owning 91 points heading into the national title game, Black’s pure playmaking ability has been perhaps his most valuable trait. The freshman sensation ranks second in the country in assists per game (3.00), and ranks fifth in points per game (5.06). He has two points or more in all but one of the 18 games he has played in – and started – this year, with three or more assists in 12 of those contests. His career started with back-to-back seven-point outings – one of five such performances this year – while he set his high water mark of eight points (4g, 4a) in a win at Southern New Hampshire in early April. In total, Black has 37 goals – including five hat tricks – and 54 assists so far this year. He represents only the fourth Warrior in program history – and just the second freshman – to eclipse the 80-point barrier in a single season, as well as only the third in program history to record 90 points or more in a single season.
Those six Warriors and the rest of the program will take on Saint Leo in the NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship Final on Sunday (May 27) at 4 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. A win would give the program its first national title.