PHILADELPHIA – The top-seeded Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (10-3, 6-0 NEC) will host fourth-seeded Sacred Heart (7-7, 3-3 NEC) in the 2018 Northeast Conference Championship semifinals this Thursday, May 3. Opening face-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field. The Hawks are in the midst of a program-record, 10-game winning streak while the Pioneers have won three of their last five.
Saint Joseph's will enter a game as a Top 20 team for the first time in the program's 25-year history as the Hawks were ranked 20th in this week's Inside Lacrosse Maverik Lacrosse Division I Media Poll and United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division I Coaches Poll, it was announced on Monday morning.
Live streaming of Thursday's game will be available free of charge through NEC Front Row. For system requirements and best streaming practices, please visit: NEC Front Row. Live stats will also be provided at SJUHawks.com.
Last time out against Sacred Heart on April 8 of this spring, a balanced team effort led Saint Joseph's to a 14-12 victory on Sweeney Field. SJU's starting attack went for seven goals and seven helpers as freshman Shane Fable (team-high 4g, 1a), senior Chris Blewitt (2g, 3a), and graduate student Mike Rastivo (1g, 3a) combined for 14 points on the afternoon and factored into 11 of SJU's 14 scoring plays. Senior midfielder Hayes McGinley added a hat trick while senior linemate Kyle Cain (2g, 2a) added significant scoring efforts.
Freshman face-off specialist Tyler Green held his own with a 12-of-27 showing from the X while sophomore long stick midfielder Liam Hare turned in three ground balls and a team-high two caused turnovers, which included a string of key plays late in the game. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler made 16 saves, including 11 in the first half, to backstop the Hawks to the victory.
Sacred Heart has two of the top three offensive weapons in the conference in Max Tuttle (NEC leader with 4.43 points per game and 3.21 goals per game) and Joe Saggese (2.79 goals per game); the pair combined for seven of SHU's 12 goals against the Hawks during the regular season.
That offensive duo will go up against a Hawk defensive unit that hasn't allowed more goals than SJU has scored in 10 games. Anchored by Adler, who went a perfect 6-0 in NEC regular-season play, and joined by starting defenseman Nick Buckley, Brendan McNicholas, and Tyler Makar and defensive midfielders Austin Smith, Davis Stoner, Will McNamara, who has turned the ball over just once in 13 regular-season games, and Hare, SJU leads the conference and ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense at a clip of 7.85 goals allowed per game. The backbone of the defensive unit is Adler, who leads the conference and ranks second in the nation in save percentage (60.6%).
10 IN A ROW
With their 8-7 win over then-#18/20 Robert Morris last Saturday afternoon, the Hawks earned their 10th-consecutive win to extend the program's longest single-season winning streak. The streak began with SJU's 11-5 win over Monmouth on March 10, as the Crimson and Gray has not suffered a defeat in 52 days (as of Wednesday, May 2), since falling to St. John's on March 6.
KING OF THE HILL
Graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo scored four goals against Bryant, the third of which broke the all-time, goal-scoring record on Hawk Hill, previously held by Randy McNeill '01 (120). Rastivo now owns 127 career goals with a minimum of one postseason game remaining in his collegiate career.
Through 13 games of regular-season action, junior attackman Chris Blewitt led the squad with 43 points on 22 goals and a team-high 21 assists while graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo (22g, 11a) and senior midfielder Kyle Cain (17g, 15a) added 30+ points apiece. Senior midfielder Hayes McGinley (16g, 3a) and rookie attackman Shane Fable (13g, 5a) rounded out SJU's top-five offensive factors.
The veteran trio of senior long stick midfielder Austin Smith (4g, 5a, team-high 40 ground balls, team-high 14 caused turnovers), senior short stick defensive midfielder Davis Stoner (6g, 3a, 36gb, 13ct), graduate student midfielder Will McNamara (6g, 5a, 29gb), who has turned the ball over just once through 13 games, and sophomore long stick midfielder Liam Hare (18gb) have completely dominated the transition game this year in all 13 games. SJU's top face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza (72-of-153) owns a 47.1 percent showing from the X while four-time NEC Rookie of the Week and two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Week redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler (9-3, 6-0 NEC) anchored SJU's defensive unit with a 60.6 save percentage and 8.02 goals against average with 146 saves vs. 95 goals allowed in 710:55.
SCOUTING SACRED HEART
Sacred Heart won four of its first five to open the season with an 11-9 win at Stony Brook, a 13-9 loss at UMass, and a trio of wins vs. Furman, 17-13, Dartmouth, 17-11, and Providence, 10-9 OT. The Pioneers then dropped four in a row to Vermont, 17-14, Hartford, 11-10, Robert Morris, 12-8, and Bryant, 16-7, before picking up their first NEC win of the spring over Mount St. Mary's, 10-9; in that win, Logan Liljeberg scored the game-winner with 56 seconds remaining in regulation. SHU then went 2-2 in the month of April, with losses to Saint Joseph's, 14-12, and Cleveland St., 15-9, and league wins over Wagner, 12-10, and Hobart, 10-6.
For the season, Max Tuttle (45g, 17a) and Saggese (39g, 20a) have dominated SHU's attack, accounting for 121 of the Pioneers' 237 points. Five Pioneers own 30+ ground balls, led by Nick Albanese (66), while Joseph Cipoletti has gone for 38 ground balls and a team-high 23 caused turnovers. Jake Giaquinto (91-of-204) and Mike Calvagna (73-of-146) have split time at the X while goalkeeper Brooks Dutton (7-6) sports an 11.43 goals against average and .491 save percentage with 142 saves vs. 147 goals allowed in 771:25, all but 69:52 on the season.
Thursday's game will mark the 10th all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Sacred Heart. The Hawks own a 6-3 all-time series edge and are 4-1 under the direction of seventh-year head coach Taylor Wray.
All-time series results are listed below:
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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Also be sure to check out Sideline Photos, LLC's shots from home games vs. Fairfield, St. John’s, Drexel, Bryant, and Mount St. Mary's (plus Senior Day) at PhotoShelter.com.