Highlighted by the return of the New England Player of the Year, the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team boasted a region-most seven selections in the 2016 New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) Division II All-New England Preseason Team, which was announced on Tuesday morning.
Merrimack boasted one attackman, two midfielders, two defensemen, a long stick midfielder, and a short stick defender on the compilation of New England’s top student-athletes expected to hit the turf this spring. Those seven selections were the most of all teams in the field, with Bentley boasting three picks, and Franklin Pierce, Saint Anselm and Southern New Hampshire each seeing one student-athlete represented apiece.
The 2015 NEILA New England Player of the Year, senior long stick midfielder Scott Corcoran (Haverhill, Mass.)headlines the seven Warrior selections. A 2016 USILA Preseason First Team All-American after being named a Second Team All-American at the end of last spring, Corcoran cemented his status as one of the top long-stick midfielders in the country after a dominant junior season that saw him become the sixth Merrimack player in the last eight years to be named the NEILA Player of the Year. In addition to his offensive contributions (4g, 5a), the Haverhill, Massachusetts, native added 27 caused turnovers and 78 ground balls, both of which led the Warriors. He ranked 32nd nationally in ground balls per game (5.0) and 18th in caused turnovers per game (1.67). He was a first team all-league and all-region selection, as well.
Also a Preseason All-New England selection in the midfield, classmate Tim Towler (Topsfield, Mass.) was one of the Warriors’ best two-way players last season en route to being named a USILA Third Team All-American. A USILA Preseason First Team All-American, Towler’s nine man-up markers were most on the squad, and he finished the year fourth in scoring with 37 points (32g, 5a). The all-league and all-region first teamer also added 30 ground balls over the course of the year, a figure that ranked third among all Warriors.
The third midfielder to Preseason All-New England honors was senior Ryan Poirier (Warwick, R.I.), who was a Second Team All-New England pick at the end of last spring. The Rhode Island native was one of the Warriors’ most versatile players in 2015, contributing 20 points (9g, 11a) with 17 ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Up front, Merrimack’s lone Preseason All-New England representative at attack was junior Max Allen (West Caldwell, N.J.). After enjoying a breakout sophomore season that featured earning a spot on the USILA Third Team All-America squad, Allen will look to build off an incredible 2015 that saw him rank in the top-four nationwide in goal-scoring. One of five Warriors to earn USILA Preseason All-America status (Second Team), Allen led the Warriors with 48 goals and his 3.07 goals per game average ranked fourth in the country last spring. Overall, Allen ranked second among all Warriors with 53 points (48g, 5a). He was also an All-New England First Team honoree, as well.
Moving to the backline, senior Tom McLaughlin (Billerica, Mass.) – the last of Merrimack’s three Preseason First Team All-Americans – will look to lead what was one of the top defensive units in the country last spring and justifiably earned Preseason All-New England accolades. After being named a Second Team All-American, a First Team All-New England and a first team all-conference selection in 2015, McLaughlin caused 10 turnovers over 16 games while adding 23 ground balls. Those efforts helped the team rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (7.47) and 26th in caused turnovers per game (7.53).
Also at defense, junior Brennen Morin (Wilbraham, Mass.) burst onto the scene as a sophomore, and while he did not garner any postseason recognition, his inclusion as a Preseason All-New England selection – in addition to his being named a USILA Preseason Second Team All-American – should be enough to warrant plenty of attention when the season begins. Forming what should be a rock-solid defensive tandem with McLaughlin, Morin appeared in all 16 games in 2015 and ranked third on team with 13 caused turnovers. The Wilbraham, Massachusetts, native also added 20 ground balls to help Merrimack rank fourth nationally in scoring defense.
Finally, senior Thomas O’Neil (Hingham, Mass.) rounded out the field by earning Preseason All-New England status as a short stick defenseman. The recognition is even more impressive considering the fact that he missed all of last season due to injury, which should indicate the potential for a breakthrough senior season as a member of a vaunted defensive corps.
Merrimack’s 2016 season begins a week from this Saturday (Feb. 20), when the Warriors – who are ranked fourth nationally in the 2016 Preseason USILA National Rankings – welcome the poll’s third-ranked team, LIU Post, to campus for a monster of a non-conference matchup to open the year. First whistle from Martone-Mejail Field is set for 12 p.m.