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No. 1 Merrimack opens season with win at No. 8 NYIT

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. – Six goals from the rookie class and another seven goals combined between two veterans helped power the top-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team past a pesky eighth-ranked NYIT squad, 16-14, in the Warriors’ season opener on Sunday afternoon at President’s Stadium. The regional win was an extremely important resume-builder for the Navy and Gold, who will return to action in 13 days at home.

The Basics
Score: #1 Merrimack 16, NYIT 14
Records: #1 Merrimack (1-0, 0-0 NE10) | #8 NYIT (1-1, 0-0 ECC)
Location: Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
Duration: 1:45

What They Said
“I give a lot of credit to NYIT, they absolutely played a great game and left it all out there. While I thought we could have played better in certain areas, for us to go into a hostile environment against a very skilled opponent — that had already played a game — and to come out the way we did was a great sign. This is an important win for the program and we’ve got 13 days to learn from our mistakes and prepare for a very good Lake Erie squad at home.” – Head Coach Mike Morgan 

Rapid Recap

  • Merrimack roared out of the gate, scoring just 14 seconds into the contest on the way to building a 4-0 lead just past the 10-minute mark of regulation. But NYIT netted the last two tallies of the opening quarter to make it a two-goal game at the break.
  • An early strike by the Warriors restored their three-goal lead, but the hosts would net the next three to tie the game. Merrimack temporarily went ahead before back-to-back strikes by the Bears gave NYIT its first lead of the afternoon. They had an opportunity to do even more damage after winning the ensuing faceoff, but a turnover led directly to a Merrimack goal with five seconds on the clock, sending the game into the half tied at 7-7.
  • The third period was a seesaw of a battle that featured three lead changes, while the defining stretch not only in the quarter, but arguably the entire game, came in the final four minutes. Trailing by a goal, Merrimack stormed back with three uninterrupted markers – with the last one coming with only 13 seconds left – to send the Warriors into the final break ahead by two (13-11).
  • NYIT got within one 3:30 into the final stanza, but the Warriors promptly capitalized on a man-up chance and then went ahead by three with 7:30 remaining. The two sides would trade goals from there on out, as Merrimack would hold on for an important regional victory to start the year.

Top Performances

  • The rookie class stole the show in the early goings on Sunday; after senior longstick midfielder Eric Coburn (Londonderry, N.H.) scored 14 seconds into the season, the next four goals all came from two freshmen: Sean Black (Cheshire, Conn.) and Christian Thomas (Wrentham, Mass.). Thomas potted the first two before Black netted back-to-back to build the Warriors an early lead.
  • Black (4g, 3a) and Thomas (2g, 1a) combined for 10 points on the afternoon with the former leading the team in outright scoring.
  • Last year’s leading scorer, Charlie Bertrand (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), was next on the list with six points, tying Black with four goals for the most by any Warrior in the game.
  • Senior Jack Trask (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who missed nearly all of last year with an injury and did not record a point, picked up where he left off two years ago with a hat trick on the afternoon.
  • Senior specialist Blake Boudreau (Amherst, N.H.) went 18-for-32 (.563) on the X and had nine ground balls, while senior Mitch Green(Manchester, N.H.), making his first career start in net, finished with 12 saves and faced 40 shot attempts in total.

Notes and Notables

  • Black had the most points in a freshman debut since Corey Lunney ’13 had eight in his Warrior debut (5g, 3a) in 2010. Black’s outing topped Bertrand’s impressive Warrior debut from last season (4g, 2a).
  • The 16 goals overall were the most for Merrimack in a season opener since starting the 2012 campaign with a 17-7 win at Dominican.
  • Merrimack was a perfect 3-for-3 on the man-up offense and converted 19-of-21 clears. The Warriors edged NYIT in ground balls (25-23) but were slightly out-shot (26-25).
  • Merrimack improved to 3-5 all-time against NYIT and has now won two straight in the series. The prior meeting was an 11-8 Merrimack victory in North Andover in the season opener of the 2011 season.

Up Next
Merrimack will enjoy a 13-day respite before hosting Lake Erie in the 2018 home opener on Saturday, March 3, at 1 p.m. The game will be historic in that it will mark the Warriors’ first-ever game at the brand-new Merrimack Stadium, which opened last fall.

Mike McMahon is in his 12th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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