PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (3-8, 0-3 NEC) will look to snap a five-game losing streak and earn its first Northeast Conference victory of the season at Sacred Heart (6-4, 2-2 NEC) this Saturday, April 15. Opening face-off is slated for noon at Campus Field in Fairfield, Conn.
Saturday's game will not be streamed. Live stats will be provided at SacredHeartPioneers.com.
With four first-place votes, Saint Joseph's was predicted to win the 2017 NEC title, as voted on by the league's seven head coaches and announced on February 7. The Hawks won the regular-season title outright in 2014 and 2015 and shared it last spring and are 17-4 in regular-season conference games since joining the league in 2014. The Pioneers, who currently sit fourth in NEC standings, were predicted to finish sixth.
Saint Joseph's senior face-off specialist Danny Manning continues to dominate at the X and ranks second (58.7%) in the NEC entering Saturday's game; in the last two games, Manning has gone 61.5 percent to go with 17 ground balls. The Pioneers come in at 43.8 percent from the X. SJU's offense will go up against a defensive unit that leads the league in caused turnovers per game (10.10), led by Ryan O'Donoghue's league-best 2.90 per outing.
Saturday’s game will mark the eighth all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Sacred Heart. The Hawks own a 5-2 all-time series edge and are 3-0 under the direction of sixth-year head coach Taylor Wray. Over the last three seasons, Saint Joseph’s has averaged 16.6 goals per game and has held Sacred Heart to an average of 7.7 goals per game.
All-Time Series Results:
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
ABOUT THE HAWKS
The Hawks have seen their season happen in streaks. After opening the season with a trio of losses to then-nationally-ranked teams in Maryland (16-8), Penn (10-5), and Duke (16-3), the Hawks finished the non-conference schedule with three consecutive wins over St. John's (8-5), Manhattan (18-6), and Monmouth (6-5 OT) before dropping its most recent five contests against Drexel (12-8), Delaware (12-7), Bryant (8-7), Robert Morris (13-7), and Hobart (8-7 OT).
Junior attackman Chris Blewitt leads the Hawks in scoring with 29 points on a team-best 20 goals and team-best nine assists. Junior attackman Jason Kelly has added 24 points on 19 goals and five helpers while junior midfielder Kyle Cain has tallied four goals over the past three games.
Senior face-off specialist Danny Manning owns a 58.7 percent winning percentage from the X (108-for-184) to go with 40 ground balls. Junior Austin Smith matches Manning's team-best 40 ground balls while senior defenseman Connor Kubikowski has gone for 27 ground balls and a team-best 12 caused turnovers.
Senior goalkeeper T.J. Jones (3-8, 0-3 NEC) sports a .550 save percentage and 10.05 goals against average in 638:49, including all 11 starts between the pipes in all but 22:37 on the year. Jones owns 131 saves on the season and made a career-high 20 stops against Hobart last time out.
SCOUTING SACRED HEART
The Pioneers are 2-2 in NEC play with a 12-9 home loss to Robert Morris, an 8-7 home win over Hobart, a 13-5 road win over Mount St. Mary's, and a 13-7 road loss at Bryant.
After dropping its season opener to Stony Brook (12-11), the Pioneers won four in a row over Furman (9-8), Dartmouth (15-8), Lafayette (14-10), and Providence (10-8). SHU closed the non-conference slate with an 11-10 loss to Vermont.
Bryce Jurk (23g, 12a) and Joe Saggese (22g, 13) lead Sacred Heart's offense while rookie Brooks Dutton (6-3, 2-2 NEC) sports a 9.41 goals against average and .530 save percentage in 555:00, all but 44:38 on the year.
SENIOR CLASS AWARD
Saint Joseph's senior goalkeeper T.J. Jones and senior defensemen Charles Giunta and Shane Taggert have been selected as candidates for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate men's lacrosse, it was announced on Thursday afternoon. Twenty of the top NCAA men’s lacrosse student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as candidates, and Saint Joseph's leads all NCAA Division I men's lacrosse programs with three candidates selected. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Read more here.