The defending national champion Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team is headed back to the national tournament for a program-record fifth straight year; the Warriors are slotted as the No. 6 seed in the North Region for the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship and will open their title defense at third-seeded Mercyhurst University on Wednesday (May 8).
Extending its program record of consecutive trips to the national tournament, Merrimack has now earned five straight bids to the Big Dance and six total in the history of the program. The Warriors have reached consecutive national title games and broke through last May when they dominated their way to the program’s first-ever national championship. That followed a national runner-up finish in 2017; Merrimack has reached the semifinal round of the bracket in all of its five total trips (2009, 2015-18).
Merrimack owns a 13-3 record at the conclusion of the regular season, with its losses coming to the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 7 team in the region; two of those three defeats were by a single goal, one of them in overtime, and all of them were on the road.
The defending champions will have to embrace the Road Warrior mentality once the tournament gets underway; with the bracket expanding to six teams on each side, Merrimack will have to travel to any of the three teams it would face should it hope to reach the title game for a third year in a row.
That journey begins Wednesday in Erie, Pennsylvania, host to the third-seeded Mercyhurst Lakers who also enter the national tournament with a 13-3 record after taking down Seton Hill in the G-MAC Championship. The 2011 national champions are back in the tournament for the first time since 2016; Wednesday’s matchup will be the first ever between the two schools.
The other opening round matchup in the North Region on Wednesday features fourth-seeded Mercy College, the 2019 East Coast Conference (ECC) champions, against fifth-seeded Seton Hill, who Merrimack topped in last year’s national semifinals on the way to the title.
Wednesday’s victors will have a tight turnaround and travel to the No. 1 (Le Moyne) and No. 2 seeds (Adelphi) in the bracket, who earn byes to the quarterfinal round that will be hosted at both schools’ campuses on Saturday (May 11). The two winners will meet in the NCAA Semifinals the following Saturday or Sunday (May 18-19) at the site of the highest remaining seed.
The National Championship will be played on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (May 26) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and will pit the last two teams standing from both regions against one another for a shot at the title.
The South Region’s six-team field features Indianapolis (14-2) against Queens (N.C.) (13-4) and Tampa (14-5) vs. Wingate (13-3) in the first round, with top-seeded Limestone (18-0) and second-seeded Belmont Abbey (14-3) awaiting those winners.
Merrimack has recorded no fewer than 12 goals in all but two games this season and owns the NE10’s best scoring offense (and the country’s third-best), averaging nearly 16 goals per game. They also boast the nation’s third-ranked man-up offense. The trio of junior Charlie Bertrand, sophomore Sean Black and sophomore Christian Thomas have combined for 235 points; no other team in the country boasts a top-three scoring tandem with as many points. In net, junior goalkeeper Nick Ponte has put together a fantastic season in net, owning the nation’s 11th-best save percentage (.569) and goals-against average (9.14).
Merrimack opens NCAA Tournament play Wednesday (May 8) at Mercyhurst. Game time from Tullio Field is tentatively set for 4 p.m.