NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Fueled by a career-high five goals from senior Kyle Stenberg, another fantastic showing on the faceoff X by classmate Blake Boudreau and a career-high 12 saves from rookie Peter Brown, the No. 2 Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team held off an upset-minded Saint Anselm squad in the 2018 Northeast-10 Conference Championship Final, as the Warriors clipped the 17th-ranked Hawks, 11-7, to win their third league tournament title in program history on Sunday at Merrimack Stadium.
Postgame Comments: Schmell/Stenberg
Score: Merrimack 11, Saint Anselm 7
Records: #2 Merrimack (15-1, 10-1 NE10) | #17 Saint Anselm (11-5, 7-4 NE10)
Location: Merrimack Stadium | North Andover, Mass.
- Saint Anselm scored on its opening possession of the game, giving the visitors an early edge. But back-to-back tallies from rookie Sean Black in a six-second span put the momentum back in favor of the home side. That lead held until the final minute, though, as the Hawks evened it up with eight seconds left in the quarter to tie it up at 2-2 with 15 minutes in the books.
- The Warriors took control in the second stanza, outscoring the Hawks by a 4-1 margin. Two of those tallies came off the stick of senior Kyle Stenberg – including a man-up strike – while sophomores Charlie Bertrand and Dom Thomas added the others, while the defense nearly put up a goose egg until the Hawks scored with only two seconds on the clock to trim the Warriors’ lead to 6-3 heading into halftime.
- Saint Anselm chipped away at the lead with an early third-quarter goal, bringing the visitors within two, but the Warrior offense potted another two goals in a lightning-quick sequence, as Stenberg got his hat trick at the 9:00 mark and then senior Blake Boudreau won the next faceoff and did all the work himself, burying his first of the game to make it 8-4 in favor of the Warriors. The Hawks made it a three-goal game after a long offensive possession, but Stenberg netted his fourth to give the Navy and Gold a 9-5 lead heading into the fourth quarter, matching their largest lead of the game in the process.
- Black hit the hat trick threshold just 12 seconds into the final frame, but the visitors answered shortly after to keep their deficit at four. Eight minutes of back-and-forth lacrosse ensued before Stenberg potted his fifth of the day with exactly five minutes remaining. The Hawks would only get one more from there on out, however, as the Warriors closed out their third league tournament title in program history and first since 2010.
- Stenberg led the way for the Warriors with his five points – all goals – while Black was next with four after contributing a hat trick and an assist.
- Bertrand, Dom Thomas and Boudreau also lit the lamp each for Merrimack, while freshman Christian Thomas and senior Jack Trask both had multiple assists.
- Boudreau dominated the X, winning 16-of-21 faceoffs and had eight ground balls to lead the way in the transition game.
- Senior James Bassett had two of Merrimack’s four caused turnovers on the defensive front.
- Brown set a new career-high with his 12 stops, posting double-digit saves for the first time in his career.
Notes and Numbers
- Merrimack won its third NE10 Championship in program history, moving into a three-way tie for second in league history for most league titles with Adelphi and Bentley.
- Stenberg, Bassett and senior Hunter Schmell were named to the all-tournament team, while Stenberg was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
- The Merrimack defense held its 13th opponent in 16 tries to single-digit goal totals.
- The Warriors won their 11th straight game, extending a program record.
- Merrimack has now won the last 27 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 (53), while Black added to his conference-leading total in overall scoring (79 points). He ranks second with 46 assists.
- Shots: 29-44 (17-19 SOG)
- EMO: (MC-STA): 1-6 // 0-2
- Faceoffs: 16-5 // Ground Balls: 27-23
- Turnovers: 12-5 (4-4 CT) // Clears: 11-12 // 13-14
Merrimack will learn its NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. when the NCAA DII Men’s Lacrosse Championship selection show airs on NCAA.com. The NCAA Tournament begins at the sites of the higher two seeds on Saturday, May 12.