NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – One week after falling to No. 1 Le Moyne in overtime, a season-high five man-up goals and season-tying 15 overall markers, coupled with a stellar showing by the man-down defense, lifted the third-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team past seventh-ranked and previously undefeated Pace, 15-9, on Saturday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field. The Warriors limited the Setters’ nation-best offense – which had been averaging 18.0 goals per game coming into the contest – to only nine in the victory.
Score: Merrimack 15, Pace 9
Records: #3 Merrimack (4-1, 2-1 NE10) | #7 Pace (4-1, 2-1 NE10)
Location: Martone-Mejail Field | North Andover, Mass.
- In a matchup featuring the top-ranked offense in the country (Pace), it was Merrimack had the first two goals of the game before the Setters ran off three straight to grab their only lead of the half (3-2) midway through the first quarter. That, however, would only spur a four-goal run by the Warriors to build a 6-3 lead, but the Setters would get a late marker with five seconds left to make it a 6-4 lead for the hosts at the end of the first frame.
- The second quarter saw Merrimack’s man-up unit go to work and explode for four goals on three attempts – with three coming in the midst of a two-minute locked-in penalty sequence – to help stake the Warriors a 10-5 lead with 6:50 left in the half. Pace, however, would trim the deficit to three with back-to-back tallies to close out the quarter, as the Warriors entered the locker rook with a 10-7 halftime advantage.
- In the third quarter, Merrimack and Pace traded goals in the early goings, keeping the Setters within three (11-8), but the Warrior defense took over from there on out, holding the high-powered Pace offense to only one goal the rest of the way while the offense added three more goals over the remainder of the frame to take a game-high six goal lead (14-8).
- Merrimack’s lead grew to as high as seven on a goal that came directly off a faceoff 14 seconds into the fourth quarter, but Pace would respond at the 10:59 mark to make it a six-goal game (15-9).
- Neither side would find the back of the net from there on out, as a sensational showing by the defense – and, particularly, the man-down unit, which finished the game 8-for-8 against the country’s top scoring offense – helped lock down another important conference win for the Warriors.
Highlights and Notables
- While the offense certainly had its stars en route to an explosive performance up front, the effort by the Merrimack defense cannot go unnoticed; the Warriors forced Pace to commit 19 turnovers – the second-highest amount by an opponent this season – while the Setters were limited to only 31 shot attempts – the fewest by an opponent this year.
- Merrimack also caused a season-high 13 of those miscues, with sophomore Dan Cotnoir (Longmeadow, Mass.) and juniors James Bassett (Getzville, N.Y.) and Eric Coburn (Londonderry, N.H.) each finishing with a career-high three forced turnovers apiece.
- Merrimack’s special teams were also the star of the show on Saturday; while the man-down defense went a perfect 8-for-8 against one of the country’s elite man-up offenses, the Warriors also scored five man-up goals on six opportunities.
- Sophomore Seamus Ford (Walpole, Mass.) had a career-high three of those man-up tallies, as the Warriors posted their highest extra-man markers since totaling five in a season-opening victory against Assumption on Feb. 28, 2015 (14-3).
- Ford (3g, 1a) joined senior Tim Towler (Topsfield, Mass.) and freshman Charlie Bertrand (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) with hat tricks on Saturday; Towler had a team-high four goals, while Bertrand had an even three.
- Junior transfer Jack Pace (Northport, N.Y.) notched his first goal as a Warrior, while freshman Dom Thomas (Wrentham, Mass.) finished with a career-high four points – all on assists.
- On the X, junior Blake Boudreau (Amherst, N.H.) was sensational, finishing four faceoff wins shy of his career-high with a 19-of-26 performance.
Team Leaders (MC // PAC)
- Points: Ford/Towler (4) // Liam Brennan (4)
- Goals: Towler (4) // Brennan (4)
- Assists: Thomas (4) // Bradley Paterson (3)
- Faceoffs: Blake Boudreau (19-of-26) // Steven Weindler (8-of-28)
- Ground Balls: Boudreau (11) // Brendan Donnellan/Matthew Simone (5)
- Caused Turnovers: Dan Cotnoir/James Bassett/Eric Coburn (3) // Two players (2)
- Saves: Edward Hellier (8-for-17) // Robert Beshlian (16-for-31)
Team Comparisons (MC // PAC)
- EMO: 5-6 // 0-8
- Shot Attempts (SOG): 48 (31) // 31 (17)
- Ground Balls: 43 // 30
- Clears: 18-22 // 22-27
- Turnovers: 19 // 22
Merrimack will play its first midweek game of the season when it travels to Saint Michael’s College on Tuesday (March 28). First whistle is set for 3 p.m.
Mike McMahon has covered Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune since 2006 and he also has been a senior writer at College Hockey News since 2005.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN and you can follow the site @TheMackReports.