PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse team will open the 2019 season at home vs. St. Bonaventure (0-1) this Saturday, February 9. Opening face-off is set for noon on Sweeney Field. The meeting will mark the first between the two teams in program history as the Bonnies enter their first season at the NCAA Division I level.
To read the full 2019 Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse season preview, please click here.
"We are thrilled to open the season against the newest Atlantic 10 lacrosse program,” said head coach Taylor Wray back on December 11. “While St. Bonaventure competes in the MAAC, I think it’s important for us to play opponents and build rivalries that exist throughout our athletic department, and we are excited to begin our season against the Bonnies."
Live streaming of Saturday's season opener and all seven regular-season home games will be available free of charge through NEC Front Row. For system requirements and best streaming practices, please visit: NEC Front Row. Live stats of all home games will also be provided via SJUHawks.com.
THE 2019 SQUAD
Under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray, a “new look” Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse team will take the field on Saturday afternoon. Saint Joseph’s returns four starters from a year ago, one in each position, in sophomore attackman Shane Fable, sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio, junior close defenseman Tyler Makar, and sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler, as well as junior long stick midfielder Liam Hare and sophomore face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza. Among the best in the nation at his position, Adler will be the backbone of the Hawks' defensive unit this spring. Predicted to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference this year, the Hawks return All-Conference selections in Adler (Second Team, Rookie Team), Fable (Rookie Team), and Vernacchio (Rookie Team) while Makar, who will start on close defense come opening day, was tabbed a 2019 Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Northeast Conference Team defenseman.
After turning in one of the most successful rookie campaigns in Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse program history, sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler returns for his second year between the pipes in 2019. After redshirting his true freshman season (2017) behind all-time Hawk great T.J. Jones, Adler went 10-4 with an 8.11 goals against average and .596 save percentage in 835:45 last spring, with 167 saves vs. 113 goals allowed. He ranked second in the NEC in both GAA and save percentage and, among the nation's best, ranked third nationally in save percentage and sixth in GAA. He backstopped a defensive unit that ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense at a clip of 8.00 goals allowed per game en route to being named to the Northeast Conference Second Team and Rookie Team and United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Team of the Week, twice. Adler is one of four captains (Liam Hare, Thomas Tarleton, Nick Vernacchio) this spring.
NO LONGER ROOKIES
Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler, sophomore attackman Shane Fable, and sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio were all voted onto the 2018 Northeast Conference Rookie Team last spring. Now in their sophomore seasons, the expectations to lead a young squad are high for the trio. Adler and Vernacchio were selected two of four team captains while Fable is the top returning scorer from 2018 and will need to carry the Hawks' offensive game this year.
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, published this past Monday, here.
SCOUTING ST. BONAVENTURE
Men's lacrosse was added as an NCAA Division I program at St. Bonaventure for the 2018-19 season, and SBU will compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference this spring. Under the direction of Randy Mearns, who had coached at Canisius for the previous 19 years, the roster fields 33 freshmen, two sophomores, and three upperclassmen. The Bonnies played their inaugural game at High Point last Saturday, February 2 and fell, 13-0, despite goalkeeper Brett Dobson's 23 saves on 36 shots faced.
Saint Joseph's head coach Taylor Wray played for St. Bonaventure head coach Randy Mearns with Team Canada back in 2006 and has coached alongside him with Team Canada since 2010. Wray and Mearns took silver at the 2010 Men's Lacrosse World Championship and won the gold in 2014.
Back on December 11 as part of the Hawks' schedule release, Wray said, "This game also has special meaning to me as we will be competing against a team coached by Randy Mearns, someone I have known since I played for him with Team Canada back in 2006 and have had the privilege of coaching alongside with Team Canada since 2010. I know he will have his team more than prepared to embark on their inaugural campaign.”
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