NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – After holding just a two-goal lead at the end of the first quarter, the No. 2 Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team exploded for 14 goals in the second quarter while holding visiting and eighth-ranked NYIT scoreless, and that was all the Warriors would need en route to an eventual 24-6 blowout win over the Bears in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The win sends Merrimack to its fourth straight semifinal appearance in the national tournament, one that the Warriors will host next Sunday night against No. 3 Seton Hill.
Score: Merrimack 24, NYIT 6
Records: #2 Merrimack (16-1, 10-1 NE10) | #8 NYIT (13-5, 6-0 ECC)
Location: Merrimack Stadium | North Andover, Mass.
- After a scoreless, back-and-forth start to the game, Merrimack took control with three straight tallies from freshman Christian Thomas – the first three of his career-high six tallies on the afternoon – before the Bears got on the board with 2:30 left in the frame. Thomas again found the back of the net – this time with a setup from his brother, sophomore Dom Thomas – to make it 4-1, but the Bears got a goal with only three seconds left in the period to make it interesting after 15 minutes of play.
- Whatever intrigue there might have been after the opening quarter quickly evaporated thanks to a historic second-quarter performance for the home side. Not only did the Warriors tally a season-high 14 goals in the frame alone – more goals than they scored in six games alone all season – but they held NYIT off the board over that span to put the game well out of reach. Senior Kyle Stenberg had four of them, junior Michael O’Connell potted three, and sophomore Charlie Bertrand joined Christian Thomas with two tallies in the second frame to highlight the onslaught.
- Equipped with an 18-2 lead, the second half saw far fewer fireworks as Merrimack outscored NYIT by a 4-1 margin in the third quarter, building as large as a 19-goal lead at one point. In addition to O’Connell netting a fourth goal, seniors Dean Prouty, Jack Trask and Bailey Walsh all factored into the second in the penultimate stanza, while classmate Mitch Green took over in net and played the final 30 minutes.
- The Warriors added two more off the sticks of Prouty and graduate student Paul Spinney before the Bears closed out the game with the final three scores, settling for the final 18-goal margin of victory for the home side to punch their ticket to the national semifinals.
- Thomas’ historic afternoon saw him finish with a career-high 10 points on the strength of six goals and four assists. He became the first player to record double-digit points in a game since former All-American Greg Melaugh ’13 did so in an 11-point output (9g, 2a) over Assumption on April 27, 2013.
- Thomas’ classmate, Sean Black, added to his team-leading total with another six-point afternoon with a goal and game-high five helpers, while Stenberg (4g, 2a) also added six points, tying his career-high.
- Trask tied his career-high with three assists and finished with five points overall, whileO’Connell (4g), Bertrand (2g, 2a) and Prouty (2g, 2a) all had four points on the afternoon, as well.
- Boudreau finished an incredible 19-for-19 on the X, dominating the faceoff battle, while freshman Davis Cronin was 6-for-13.
- Senior Eric Coburn tied his career-high with four caused turnovers to lead the way on the defensive front while adding five ground balls – second only to Boudreau’s nine – while junior Dan Cotnoir had two disruptions, as well.
- Green finished with 10 saves on 21 shots faced in the second half, while rookie Peter Brown only had to make one stop over the opening half.
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack’s 16th victory of the season set a new school record, topping the previous record of 15 set in the last two years.
- The win assured that Merrimack would reach the semifinal round of the NCAA Championship for the fifth time in program history and for the fourth straight year, as the Warriors have won at least once NCAA Tournament game in each of the last four seasons.
- Merrimack also improved to 2-0 all-time at home in NCAA Tournament games.
- The Merrimack defense held its 14th opponent in 17 tries to single-digit goal totals.
- The Warriors won their 12th straight game, extending a program record.
- Merrimack has now won the last 28 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.
- Merrimack set single-game highs in points (44), goals (24) and assists (20) for the season.
- Bertrand added to his league-leading goal total on the year (55), while Black added to his conference-leading total in overall scoring (85 points) and took over sole possession of first place with 51 assists on the year.
- Shots: 49-26 (32-17 SOG)
- EMO: (MC-NYIT): 6-8 // 0-3
- Faceoffs: 25-7 // Ground Balls: 38-19
- Turnovers: 14-14 (8-7) // Clears: 16-22 // 13-16
Merrimack will next play host to Seton Hill in the semifinal round of the NCAA Championship next Sunday, May 20, with a berth in the national title game at Gillette Stadium on the line. Due to Commencement Weekend festivities, the game will be played at Martone-Mejail Field and begin at 7 p.m.