PHILADELPHIA – Coming off of a thrilling, 12-11 overtime home victory over then-#20 Hobart last weekend, the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (6-5, 2-1 NEC) heads to Sacred Heart (6-5, 2-2 NEC) this Saturday, April 13. Opening face-off at Campus Field in Fairfield, Conn. is set for 1:00 p.m.

The Hawks tie for second, with Hobart (2-1 NEC), in league standings while the Pioneers tie for fourth, with Robert Morris (2-2). Mount St. Mary's sits atop league at 3-0. The four-team 2019 NEC Championships run on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4 at the site of the regular-season champion.

“As is always the case, we will need to take care of business in our own league if we hope to have the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” said eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray back on December 11. “The NEC has really improved overall over these last few seasons, and I believe this will be the most challenging year yet. We are going to have our work cut out for us, and I know my team will be excited for the challenge.”

The Hawks are 27-6 all-time in NEC regular-season games in their sixth season in the league. Returning All-Conference selections from a year ago include sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (Second Team, Rookie Team), sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio (Rookie Team), and sophomore attackman Shane Fable (Rookie Team).

After leading the Crimson and Gray to a 12-11 overtime victory over then-#20 Hobart on April 6, a trio of Hawks swept the Northeast Conference's weekly awards, it was announced on Monday afternoon. Sophomore attackman Nate Patterson was selected the NEC's Player of the Week for the first time of his collegiate career while sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler earns his third career Defensive Player of the Week nod. Additionally, freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole was recognized as the Rookie of the Week for the second time this spring.

Patterson turned in a game-high four points (2g, 2a) against the Statesmen, and two of those points came in crunch time. With six-tenths of a second remaining in regulation, Patterson scored the equalizer to force the game into overtime. He then assisted on the overtime game winner just 47 seconds into extra time, scored by linemate Matt Tufano. Adler made a career-high 20 saves on the day, including nine in the second quarter alone and four in the fourth, while Cole was extremely strong at the X, going 17-for-26 with 11 ground balls.

Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (16-9 career, 6-5 this season) owns 126 saves through 11 games this season for an average of 10.72 stops per contest. Adler has made double-digit saves nine times this spring, including a career-high 20 stops against then-#20 Hobart. The sophomore sits eighth in career saves on Hawk Hill with 293, directly behind Nick Leopard '02 (318). He owns that number through just 25 games played and 1,485 minutes for an average of 11.72 saves per game and one save every 5.07 minutes of his career.

Sophomore attackman Nate Patterson waited two seasons to make his Hawk debut, and he didn't disappoint with a game-high six points on a game-high four goals (three in the second half) and two assists in SJU's 15-7 win over St. Bonaventure on February 9. Patterson, who was on SJU's 2016-17 roster but missed his freshman season due to injury, left for Mercer for his redshirt freshman season. He's back donning the Crimson and Gray as a sophomore and leads the Hawks on the offensive end with a team-high 34 points on a team-high 16 goals and team-high 18 assists. Patterson is coming off of a game in which he scored the late equalizer and assisted on the OT game-winning goal against then-#20 Hobart.

Freshman attackman Ryan Doran has done a little bit of everything in his first collegiate season. The rookie ranks second on the squad in goals (15), assists (10), and points (25) and sits third in ground balls (27), as the versatile freshman sits only behind freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole (69) and junior close defenseman Tyler Makar (29) in the category.

Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole didn't play like a rookie in his collegiate debut in SJU's 15-7 win over St. Bonaventure on February 9, winning 19 face-off possessions in 23 opportunities (82.6%) and scooping up 14 ground balls to lead the Hawks past the Bonnies. Cole followed up with a 21-for-28 showing from the X against Fairfield on February 16. In his first three collegiate games, Cole went 52-for-71 (73.2 percent) with 31 ground balls and five points (3g, 2a). After going 17-for-26 against then-#20 Hobart on April 6, Cole sits at 61.2 percent (126-for-206) through 10 games as SJU's primary face-off specialist.

The average number of seniors on each roster across the NCAA Division I 73 men's lacrosse programs this spring is nine. There are 44 teams with nine or more seniors on their 2019 roster. This spring, Saint Joseph's fields a roster with the smallest four-year senior class among all Division I programs that did not start up within the last three seasons. But if we're looking at what matters on the youngest team during eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray's tenure - a leadership presence that has bought into the culture of the Hawk Hill way - it really doesn't matter that there are only two seniors in the Class of 2019 to guide a roster comprised of 85% freshmen and sophomores. Senior midfielder Thomas LaRose and senior close defenseman Thomas Tarleton are more than enough. Check out the feature here.

After dropping three of its first four to open the season with a loss at then-#18 Georgetown, a win over Furman, 18-11, and back-to-back home losses to Boston University, 16-11, and Fairfield, 12-11, Sacred Heart bounced back to win four straight, over Providence, 17-16, Stony Brook, 12-11 OT, Hartford, 16-12, and Robert Morris, 18-16. The Pioneers then suffered back-to-back setbacks against Hobart, 10-9, and Mount St. Mary's, 14-10, before picking up an 11-8 road win over Bryant on April 6.

Joe Saggese (31g, 22a) and Max Tuttle (27g, 13a) lead the Pioneers in scoring while Joseph Cipoletti leads the squad in ground balls (44) and caused turnovers (25). Brooks Dutton (6-5, 2-2 NEC) sports a .481 save percentage and 12.57 goals against average with 128 saves vs. 138 goals allowed in 658:48, all but 15 seconds of the season.

The Pioneers went 7-8 overall and 3-3 in league play last year, falling to the Hawks, 11-9, in the NEC Tournament semifinals.

Saturday’s game will mark the 10th all-time meeting betw
een Saint Joseph’s and Sacred Heart. The Hawks own a 6-3 all-time series edge and are 4-1 under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray. On April 8 of last season, SJU’s starting attack unit went for seven goals and seven helpers, led by then-freshman Shane Fable’s four scores and a helper. Then-sophomore long stick midfielder Liam Hare made a string of key defensive plays late in the game and then-redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler made 16 saves, including 11 in the first half.

All-time series results:
2018 - W - 14-12 - Home
2017 - L - 12-11 (OT) - Away
2016 - W - 16-6 - Home'
2015 - W - 13-8 - Away
2014 - W - 21-9 - Home
2001 - L - 16-9 - Home
2000 - W - 18-16 - Away
1994 - W - 13-8 - Home
1993 - L - 8-5 - Home

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