Home Men's Lacrosse Preview: Merrimack begins national title defense at Mercyhurst

Preview: Merrimack begins national title defense at Mercyhurst

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photo: Merrimack Athletics

The No. 7 Merrimack College men’s lacrosse program will open its national title defense against fourth-ranked Mercyhurst University on Wednesday, May 8, in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The Warriors and Lakers will square off for the first time ever at Tullio Field at 4 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 three 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 four years it has reached the national tournament.
  • 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 7-4, including 3-0 at home and 3-3 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), 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.
  • 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 16.13 goals per game. They also boast the nation’s third-ranked man-up offense that converts at 47.2 percent. The Warriors have also taken care of the ball well, as indicated by their 15.44 turnovers per game (fourth-fewest in the country) and an 81.8-percent clearing percentage.
  • Junior Charlie Bertrand continues to back up his status as one of the nation’s best overall players with 75 points on the strength of 60 goals and 15 assists in 12 games. He leads the country in points per game (6.25) and goals per game (5.00), while sophomore Sean Black leads the country in assists per game (3.67) and ranks fifth in scoring average (5.53); he is up to a team-high 83 points on the season (28g, 55a). Sophomore Christian Thomas rounds out the “big three” with 77 points (40g, 37a) and ranks in the top-15 nationally in assists and scoring averages. Altogether, they combine for 235 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 (.569) and goals-against average (9.14).
  • Merrimack and Mercyhurst will meet for the first time in the tournament’s opening ledger. The third-seeded Lakers 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. Devin Pipher paces Mercyhurst with 74 points (35g, 39a); Ryan Jobson has won 60.2% of his faceoffs (106-176); and Hunter Emerson has started all but one game in net and owns a 8.74 goals against and .514 save percentage.

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