The Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team will start the 2018 season ranked second nationally, as the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) unveiled its preseason coaches’ poll on Tuesday.
Merrimack, which reached the NCAA Division II Championship Final for the first time in program history as part of a school-record 15-win campaign, trails only defending national champion Limestone in the 20-team compilation. The Warriors played the Saints in a hard-fought national final last May at Gillette Stadium en route to the team’s national runner-up finish.
Fellow Northeast-10 Conference constituents and NCAA Tournament qualifiers Le Moyne, Adelphi and Pace rounded out spots 3-5 in the poll, while Merrimack’s first opponent of the year – NYIT – was ranked eighth. Saint Anselm, who Merrimack will face in early April, rounded out the poll in the No. 20 spot, accounting for the fifth ranked team in the preseason poll that the Warriors will face in the regular season.
Merrimack returns nearly every important component from last year’s squad, including its lead scorer and the 2017 NE10 Rookie of the Year in sophomore attack Charlie Bertrand, as well as the USILA Defender of the Year in senior James Bassett. They are two of four returning USILA All-Americans on the squad – including one first-teamer in Bassett. Seniors Hunter Schmell and Blake Boudreau were also tabbed All-Americans last year at short stick defensive midfield and faceoff specialist, respectively.
Overall, Merrimack will have the services of six of its top eight scorers, its starting goalkeeper in rising junior Edward Hellier, its primary faceoff specialist and four of its top-five most disruptive defenders in terms of caused turnovers when the Warriors return to action in just under a month.
Merrimack opens the year at preseason No. 8 NYIT on Sunday, Feb. 18, with a 12 p.m. start time.