NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Playing for the first time in 13 days, the top-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team fought back after falling behind by three goals, using a run of seven uninterrupted goals to turn that deficit into a four-goal lead it would never relinquish, as the Warriors turned away upset-minded Lake Erie in the program’s first-ever game at Merrimack Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Score: #1 Merrimack 16, Lake Erie 11
Records: #1 Merrimack (2-0, 0-0 NE10) | #RV Lake Erie (0-1, 0-0 GMAC)
Location: North Andover, Mass. | Merrimack Stadium
- After Merrimack netted the game’s first goal just past the first-minute mark, the two teams would trade tallies over the remainder of the frame. Lake Erie, however, took advantage of a late turnover and beat the buzzer in the final second of the opening quarter to draw even at 3-3 and begin to shift the momentum in the contest.
- The Storm kept that surge going into the second quarter, netting three goals in a row in the first six minutes of the stanza to take their largest lead of the afternoon at 6-3. Merrimack would regroup, however, and used some special teams skill to retake control of the game. Freshman Christian Thomas buried a man-up goal with 5:03 left in the half, sophomore Charlie Bertrand netted a man-down marker two minutes later, and senior Kyle Stenberg tied the game at 6-all with just 32 seconds left in the half, making it a brand new game entering the third quarter.
- It was all Merrimack for nearly the entirety of the third quarter, as the hosts channeled that momentum they generated late in the first half and built on it to start the second. Stenberg, Thomas, Bertrand and senior Jack Trask all did the damage in a third quarter that saw the Warriors outscore the visitors by a 4-1 margin, as the Navy and Gold took a 10-7 lead into the final frame.
- The Warriors built their lead to five goals for the first time midway through the fourth, as the balanced Merrimack attack saw junior Michael O’Connell and redshirt freshman Andrew Johnson tickle the twine, and then Thomas, O’Connell and rookie Sean Black all scored in succession to put the game out of reach in the closing moments. Two late Lake Erie goals did not factor into what would eventually be a five-goal Merrimack victory.
- Merrimack’s two lead scorers from the season opener were in familiar territory in Saturday’s contest, as Bertrand (5g, 2a) and Black (1g, 6a) both led the way with seven points. Black now has seven points in his first two collegiate games while setting a new career-high with six assists, while Bertrand set a new single-game personal best with his seven points and finished one goal shy of his career high.
- Thomas was no slouch either on the offensive front, scoring a highlight-reel goal as part of a season-best six-point outing on four goals and two helpers.
- O’Connell and Stenberg were the other two Warriors with multi-point games, with the latter adding an assist as part of a three-point outing. Trask (1g, 1a) also had two points, while Johnson’s goal was the first of his career.
- Senior Blake Boudreau won 65.9 percent of his faceoffs (17-of-26) and had nine ground balls, while classmate James Bassett caused a team-high two turnovers.
- Mitch Green finished with nine saves in net while allowing 11 goals.
Notes and Notables
- Merrimack finished 1-of-5 with the extra man while keeping Lake Erie off the board on its three man-up chances. The Warriors out-gained the Storm in ground balls (29-28) and shots on goal (21-20) and turned the ball over 13 times compared to 15 for the visitors.
- Merrimack also went 11-of-13 on the clear compared to Lake Erie’s 14-for-16 clip.
- Merrimack now has three of the top-four scorers in the NE10 with Black (13), Bertrand (13) and Thomas (9) slotted in spots two through four in the league leader board; the only player with more is Le Moyne’s Justin Kesselring with one more game played.
- Merrimack has 16 goals in each of its first two games this year.
- The Warriors improved to 2-0 all-time against Lake Erie with the win Saturday.
- Merrimack has won the last 14 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 will stay at home as part of a season-long three-game homestand and take on another regional rival – LIU Post out of the East Coast Conference – next Saturday, with first whistle from Merrimack Stadium set for 12 p.m.