After upstaging third-seeded Mercyhurst in an 11-goal victory in the national tournament opener, the seventh-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse program will head to second-seeded Adelphi University for the quarterfinal round of the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship on Saturday. Game time from Motamed Field is set for 1 p.m.
Merrimack in the NCAA Championship
- Merrimack is back in the national tournament for a program-record fifth straight season and sixth time overall in program history; the previous five occasions were in 2009 and 2015-18.
- Merrimack, the defending national champions, has won four straight NCAA Tournament games dating back to last year; the Warriors dominated on their way to the national title in 2018, averaging a 14-goal margin of victory in all three postseason games last spring culminating in their 23-6 thrashing of Saint Leo in the national final.
- The Warriors will be aiming to return to the NCAA Championship Final for the third straight year. In addition to last May’s victory, they came within two goals of winning it all in 2017 in an eventual 11-9 setback against Limestone.
- Merrimack has reached the semifinal round of the national tournament in all of the previous five years it qualified; in 2009, there was only a four-team field, hence the Warriors earning a berth straight to the semifinals, but Merrimack has won at least one game in the other five years it has reached the national tournament (including this year).
- 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.
- The Warriors’ all-time record in the NCAA Tournament stands at 8-4, including 3-0 at home and 4-3 on the road, as well as 1-1 at a neutral site (Gillette Stadium – 2017).
- Merrimack’s most frequent NCAA Tournament opponent is Le Moyne (1-3), followed by Adelphi (2-0), LIU Post (1-0), Mercyhurst (1-0), NYIT (1-0), Limestone (0-1), Saint Leo (1-0) and Seton Hill (1-0).
Five Things to Know:
- Merrimack concluded the regular season with a 13-3 overall record (7-0 at home). They finished in a three-way tie for first place in the NE10 and earned a share of the conference’s regular season crown but were seeded third in the tournament due to the goal differential tiebreaker. The Warriors were denied a chance to repeat as league champions after falling to Le Moyne on the road, 12-11, in a wild semifinal bout, but they got back on track with a 16-5 win over Mercyhurst in the NCAA Tournament’s first round on Wednesday.
- Recording no fewer than 12 goals in all but two games this season, Merrimack owns the NE10’s best scoring offense (and the country’s third-best), averaging 16.12 goals per game. They also boast the nation’s third-ranked man-up offense that converts at 48.8 percent. The Warriors have also taken care of the ball well, as indicated by their 15.47 turnovers per game (fourth-fewest in the country) and an 82.9-percent clearing percentage.
- Junior Charlie Bertrand continues to back up his status as one of the nation’s best overall players with 81 points on the strength of 66 goals and 15 assists in 13 games. He leads the country in points per game (6.23) and goals per game (5.08), while sophomore Sean Black leads the country in assists per game (3.94) and ranks fifth in scoring average (5.69); he is up to a team-high 91 points on the season (28g, 63a). Sophomore Christian Thomas rounds out the “big three” with 82 points (44g, 38a) and ranks in the top-15 nationally in assists and scoring averages. Altogether, they combine for 254 points – no other team in the country boasts a top-three scoring tandem with as many points.
- Junior goalkeeper Nick Ponte has put together a strong season in net, owning the nation’s 11th-best save percentage (.578) and goals-against average (8.76).
- Merrimack and Adelphi have played a hotly contested series over the last decade since the Panthers joined the NE10 in 2009. Overall, Merrimack has a 12-9 series lead but saw its three-game win streak end in April after a nine-goal setback. The Warriors are undefeated in two previous NCAA Tournament games against Adelphi, both of which were on the road, where Merrimack has gone 3-7 all-time. The Panthers’ only two losses this year were against Le Moyne; otherwise they are 16-2 and were NE10 runners-up. Ian Kirby is the top scorer with 73 points (43g, 30a), while faceoff specialist Mark Andrejack is one of the nation’s best with a 75.1-percent winning clip (260-of-346). Brendan McDougal has started every game and owns an 8.28 goals against and a .568 save percentage..