NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The No. 2 Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team is headed back to Gillette Stadium for a chance to win its first national title after a victory over third-ranked Seton Hill in the semifinal round of the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The Warriors erased an early two-goal deficit, outscored the visitors by an 8-4 margin in the second and third quarters and then held off the Griffins in the fourth to earn their second straight trip to the finals, where they will meet No. 6 Saint Leo next Sunday (May 27) at 4 p.m.
Score: Merrimack 16, Seton Hill 9
Records: #2 Merrimack (17-1, 10-1 NE10) | #3 Seton Hill (17-2, 7-0 G-MAC)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
- Two of the top-ranked scoring offenses in the country were on display early, as the two sides combined for three goals in just over three minutes of action. It was the visiting Griffins who hopped on early with two tallies just under a minute apart, but sophomore Charlie Bertrand got the Warriors on the board 12 seconds after Seton Hill’s second goal and rookie Sean Black netted a pretty wraparound goal to tie things up with 8:54 left in the frame.
- The visitors would get another and take a 3-2 lead that held for the next six minutes, but a late man-up opportunity would lead to the equalizer off the stick of senior Jack Trask, and that 3-3 score would go unchanged heading into the first intermission.
- Merrimack’s offense went to work early in the second quarter, exploding for three goals in less than three minutes to grab control of the game. Bertrand, junior Michael O’Connell and Black all tickled the twine in quick succession, and then it was sophomore Dom Thomas getting on the board with 6:26 left in the half to extend the lead to 7-3. The Griffins managed to get one more late in the frame to make it a three-goal contest (7-4) at the midway point.
- An entertaining third quarter saw both sides combine for seven goals, the most in a single quarter all game. Merrimack got it started about 80 seconds into the frame, with Black netting his third of the contest. Seton Hill answered, but the Warriors built what was their largest lead at the time at five goals after back-to-back strikes from O’Connell and freshman Christian Thomas.
- Then it was Seton Hill going on a mini-run, netting a pair in a two-minute span to get within three, but the home side’s transition unit forced a turnover and led to senior Blake Boudreau netting his first with just over four minutes left in the third. The hosts had a late man-up opportunity but could not convert and settled for a four-goal lead (11-7) entering the final frame.
- Merrimack made sure the game got no closer than four goals, scoring twice early in what was eventually a five-goal fourth quarter – its highest offensive output of the day – to put the game away. The Griffins did get within four after back-to-back goals to make it a 13-9 score with 10:22 left, but the Warriors would get the final three goals from there on out to punch their return ticket to Gillette Stadium.
- As they have all year, it was Black and Bertrand leading the charge on the offensive front, scoring six of Merrimack’s 16 goals combined while combining for 11 points. Black held a slim lead with six points (3g, 3a), while Bertrand added another five on a hat trick and two helpers.
- O’Connell was next on the list with a hat trick and four points total, one point shy of his career-high while marking his second straight NCAA Tournament game with four points, tying his career-high.
- Christian Thomas, Dom Thomas and Trask both had two goals apiece, while Boudreau not only dominated the draw, going 17-of-28 on the X (60.7 percent), but he also had a goal and an assist, as well.
- Boudreau also led the way with eight ground balls, while six different Warriors caused turnovers.
- Rookie Peter Brown finished with six saves to get the win in his second straight NCAA Tournament start.
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack’s 17th victory of the season added to its new school record, topping the previous record of 15 set in the last two years.
- The win sends Merrimack to its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship Finals and the second overall in school history; the Warriors have won at least two NCAA Tournament games in each of the last two seasons and at least one game in each of the last four years.
- Merrimack will be playing for the school’s third-ever national championship; the 1994 softball team and 1978 men’s ice hockey team also won national titles at the Division II level.
- Merrimack also improved to 3-0 all-time at home in NCAA Tournament games.
- The Merrimack defense held its 15th opponent in 18 tries to single-digit goal totals.
- The Warriors won their 13th straight game, extending a program record.
- Merrimack has now won the last 29 games it has scored 10 or more goals in; its last loss when posting a double-digit scoring total was in double overtime against Le Moyne (12-11) on March 18, 2017.
- Bertrand added to his league-leading goal total on the year (58), while Black added to his conference-leading total in overall scoring (91 points) and assists (54).
- Black becomes the first Warrior since former All-American Greg Rogowski’s 108-point campaign in 2006 to surpass 90 points on the year. He ranks third in single-season all-time scoring.
- Shots: 39-27 (30-15 SOG)
- EMO: (MC-SHU): 2-5 // 0-4
- Faceoffs: 17-11 // Ground Balls: 30-31
- Turnovers: 12-13 (6-10) // Clears: 16-16 // 14-16
Merrimack will take on Saint Leo in next week’s NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship Final at Gillette Stadium, where both programs will be aiming for their first national title. Game time is set for 4 p.m.