Four student-athletes from the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse program were named to the 2019 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) All-America Teams, as announced Friday morning.
Junior Charlie Bertrand highlights the quartet of honorees after being named the Lt Raymond J. Enners Outstanding Player of the Year, as well as the Lt. Col. JI Turnbull Outstanding Attackman of the Year – both of which are the second straight accolades for the Baldwinsville, New York, native. Bertrand was named a First Team All-American for the second year in a row and is now a three-time All-American overall in addition to his second team selection as a rookie in 2017.
Joining Bertrand on the compilation of the country’s top players were senior midfielder Michael O’Connell and sophomores attacks Sean Black and Christian Thomas. O’Connell was slotted as a third team selection for his first-ever All-America distinction; Black moves up to the second team squad after debuting as an honorable mention in 2018 as a rookie; Thomas, finally, takes home his first career All-America accolade as an honorable mention.
Claiming his second straight USILA Player of the Year and Outstanding Attackman honor after becoming the first to do so since former All-American Corey Lunney back in 2013, Bertrand adds yet another accolade to a season full of them; the USILA Preseason Player of the Year and 2019 Northeast-10 Conference and New England Player of the Year who was the only Division II player named to the Tewaaraton Watch List during the winter, Bertrand has clearly been the nation’s best overall player with 90 points on the strength of 74 goals (a new single-season program record) and 16 assists in 15 games. He leads the country in points per game (6.00) and goals per game (4.93), while his 13 man-up goals are second nationwide only to O’Connell. He has 23 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, as well, and is shooting 51.4 percent on the season.
While Bertrand has done most of the goal-scoring, Black has been the catalyst for one of the nation’s most potent offenses and its best attacker. He leads the country in assists per game (4.0) and ranks fifth in scoring average (5.65); he is up to a team-high 102 points on the season (30g, 72a), becoming just the second player in school history to record 100-plus points in a season. He needs six more to tie the single-season record of 108 points set by Greg Rogowski ’09 in 2006; he already is the school’s all-time career assists leader (130).
Earning his first-ever All-America accolade after doing likewise at the all-region level, O’Connell has played a major role on the turf throughout the year, whether it be up front or in the middle of the field to put the team in the best position to succeed. He still has had a potent scoring touch with 40 goals – behind only Bertrand and Thomas on the team leader board – with a nation-high 15 of those tallies coming with the man-up unit. His 47.6-percent scoring clip is second-best on the team for players with 50 or more shot attempts, and he has taken care of the ball, as indicated by just nine turnovers compared to 29 ground balls and six takeaways.
Finally, Thomas rounds out the “big three” on offense with 92 points (50g, 42a), ranking second in total scoring on the squad. He also ranks in the top-15 nationally in assist (2.21) and scoring (4.84) averages. He takes home his first such All-America accolade in the process after also earning all-conference and all-region distinction. The Wrentham, Massachusetts, native also has totaled seven man-up goals, 41 ground balls and eight caused turnovers while shooting at 42.0 percent. His overtime goal against Le Moyne last Saturday in the semifinal round of the national tournament sent the Warriors back to the national title game for the third year in a row.
The quartet of All-Americans and the rest of the Warriors now turn their sights to the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship, which will pit Merrimack against top-ranked and undefeated Limestone College in a rematch of the 2017 title game this Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.