Merrimack Lacrosse Puts Record-Tying Six on USILA Nike Division II All-American Team
Just four days away from its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championship Final, the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team received more postseason recognition in the form of a record-tying six student-athletes being named United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA)/Nike Division II All-Americans, as announced Wednesday.
The Warriors’ six All-America selections were the second most by a single school in the country, trailing only fellow Northeast-10 Conference constituent Adelphi, who led the nation with seven All-Americans. Merrimack’s six selections tied the program record for most All-America representation in a single season; there were six Warrior All-Americans selected in both 2015 and 2016, as well.
Merrimack had two representatives on the USILA All-America First Team for the second straight season, as senior midfielder Tim Towler (Topsfield, Mass.) and junior defenseman James Bassett (Getzville, N.Y.) each were slotted at the first team midfield and defensive units, respectively.
The Warriors had two more representatives on the All-America Second Team in the form of senior short stick midfielder Hunter Schmell (Woodstock, Vt.) and freshman attack Charlie Bertrand (Baldwinsville, N.Y.).
Senior defender Brennen Morin (Wilbraham, Mass.) was a member of the Third Team All-America defensive corps, while junior faceoff specialist Blake Boudreau (Amherst, N.H.) rounded out the Warriors’ six honorees by being named an All-America Honorable Mention selection.
After missing all of last season due to injury, Towler returned to the lineup and quickly reestablished his reputation as one of the country’s top midfielders en route to earning his third career All-America honor in the process, including his first appearance on the First Team unit. The former USILA Third Team and Honorable Mention All-American has put together his best offensive campaign to date with 53 points (38g, 15a) and 26 ground balls on the way to being named the NE10 and New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) Player of the Year. The Topsfield, Massachusetts, native ranks third nationally in man-up goals (9) and is the team’s top-scoring midfielder.
On the back end, Bassett has enjoyed arguably the finest breakthrough campaign for any non-rookie Warrior, as the the NE10 Defensive Player of the Year picks up his first-ever All-America honor at the first team unit after also doing so on the all-region and all-conference ledgers. Bassett has been a driving force among a defensive corps that ranks eighth nationally in goals allowed per game (7.61). The Getzville, New York, native has caused 18 turnovers – good for second-most on the team – while collecting 52 ground balls, ranking third on the team in that category.
Continuing what has been a historic debut campaign for the Warriors, Bertrand was affixed in the All-America Second Team group at attack, becoming the first rookie Warrior to earn All-America honors since the program’s only four-time All-American, Greg Rogowski ’09, did so in 2006. The NE10 Rookie of the Year did not take long to establish himself as one of the conference – and country’s – top playmakers. The Baldwinsville, New York, native currently ranks 13th nationally in points per game (4.35) and 10th in goals per game (3.0) while also coming in at 38th in assists per game (1.35). The rookie has been the conference’s scoring leader from the onset and sits atop the league leader boards in both goals (51) and points (74) while ranking fourth in assists (23). No other player in the conference has attempted more shots than Bertrand either (149), while the rookie has also contributed 25 ground balls.
Another first-time All-American, Schmell continues to rack up the respect of coaches across the conference, region and country as one of the top two-way defensive players nationwide. A first team selection at both the conference and regional circuit, Schmell has enjoyed his best season yet with the Navy and Gold, posting career-highs in all offensive and defensive categories. Schmell has been a key component during faceoffs on the wing and in the transition game while also valuable on the defensive third against the opposition’s top weapons. The Woodstock, Vermont, native has contributed 12 points (8g, 4a) and 37 ground balls while causing 12 turnovers to date.
Merrimack’s second defender recognized on the All-America compilation was Morin, a third team selection, who becomes a two-time honoree in the process after earning second team recognition last May. His versatility has been on display in his final season with the Navy and Gold, as Morin has also moved to the long stick midfield spot and that move has paid dividends for the Warriors. The Wilbraham, Massachusetts, native earned all-league first team and all-region first team honors at the spot. He boasts 36 ground balls and has caused 16 turnovers, but the intangibles he has provided go far beyond the stat sheet, as his ability to push the ball in transition to set up the offense while also wreaking havoc in the defensive and middle thirds of the turf have helped him establish his reputation as one of the top players nationwide.
Finally, Merrimack has benefitted from some of the top possession play – from the back end to its transition play and to its highly efficient offense – but it all starts on the X, where Boudreau was lauded with his first All-America Honorable Mention selection for the faceoff specialist spot. A Second Team All-New England and NE10 All-Conference pick, Boudreau currently ranks 12th nationally with a 63.2-percent success rate, winning 216-of-335 attempts this season. The Amherst, New Hampshire, native also ranks 14thnationally in ground balls per game (5.88) and leads all Warriors with 112 ground balls on the year. The junior also has contributed seven points offensively, including three goals.
The six All-Americans and the rest of the Warriors now turn their sights to the national championship game, where they will meet last year’s runner-up, top-ranked Limestone College, for a shot at the program’s first national title on the line this Sunday. Game time from Gillette Stadium is set for 2 p.m.