PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (2-1) heads to Delaware (3-0) this Tuesday, February 26. Opening face-off at Delaware Stadium in Newark, Del. is set for 2:00 p.m.
The game will be streamed for free on Lax Sports Network and can be viewed on a desktop or on the LSN app.
Delaware, receiving votes in all three major polls this week, enters Tuesday's game as one of the nation's top teams in scoring defense, holding its opposition to an average of 5.33 goals per contest over its opening three games. Goalkeeper Matt DeLuca (3-0) owns a 5.10 goals against average and .741 save percentage on just 15 goals allowed this spring while defensive stalwart Austin Haynes ranks in the nation's top five in caused turnovers per game (3.33).
But the Hawks have the offense.
The game is expected to be competitive from the opening whistle as both face-off specialists have proven themselves early on. SJU rookie Zach Cole (73.2 percent) will go up against Delaware senior Jake Hervada (69.2 percent).
Saint Joseph's is coming off of a 14-5 loss to Providence while Delaware took home its third win of the season with an 8-4 victory over Monmouth, both this past Saturday.
THE 2019 SQUAD
Under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray, a “new look” squad represents Saint Joseph's University this spring. 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, whose versatility will allow for meaningful minutes as a short stick defensive midfielder this year. Among the best in the nation at his position, Adler will be the backbone of the Hawks' defensive unit. 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 was tabbed a 2019 Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Northeast Conference Team defenseman.
The Hawks rolled out nine new faces on opening day (February 9), including starting freshman attackman Ryan Doran, starting sophomore attackman Nate Patterson, and starting freshman midfielder Zach Mantei as well as freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole, who served as SJU's primary FOGO.
GOALS ON GOALS ON GOALS!
Saint Joseph's put up 21 goals in its rout over Fairfield on February 16. Rookie attackman Ryan Doran (5g, 1a) and sophomore attackman Shane Fable (5g) teamed up for 10 of them while sophomore attackman Nate Patterson (3g, 2a) rounded out a starting attacking unit that put up 13 scores. The 21 goals was the most by the program since April 19, 2014. Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole scored twice and assisted on two others and sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio scored once while dishing out three assists to lead nine total Hawks in scoring.
COLE COOL UNDER PRESSURE
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 three games, Cole has gone 52-for-71 (73.2 percent) with 31 ground balls and five points (3g, 2a).
POINTS FOR PATTERSON
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 sophomore season. He's back donning the Crimson and Gray as a sophomore and leads the Hawks on the offensive end with a team-high 12 points on a team-high eight goals and four helpers.
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.
Adler has 12 career wins to his name after victories over St. Bonaventure and Fairfield 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 currently sits second on the squad with 11 points on six goals and a team-high five helpers.
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.
Delaware has received votes in all three major polls this week, including the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches Poll, Nike/US Lacrosse Poll (rankings are compiled by US Lacrosse Magazine staff and contributors, with input from college coaches) and Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
The Blue Hens are 3-0 after opening the season with back-to-back road wins over Mount St. Mary's, 11-8, and NJIT, 12-4, and, most recently, a home win over Monmouth, 8-4, this past Saturday.
Dean DiSimone (7g, 4a), Charlie Kitchen (5g, 5a), and Bryce Reid (6g) lead the Delaware offense while face-off specialist Jake Hervada sports a 69.2 percent showing from the X with a team-high 10 ground balls. Top defensive option Austin Haynes sports team-high numbers in ground balls (10) and caused turnovers (10) while goalkeeper Matt DeLuca has earned all three starts in net for a 5.10 goals against average and .741 save percentage on 43 saves and 15 goals allowed in 176:34, all but 3:26 on the season.
Delaware was picked third in the Colonial Athletic Association's Preseason Poll, with Haynes and Kitchen earning Preseason All-CAA honors. The Blue Hens reached the CAA Tournament last year before bowing out to Towson, 9-8.
HISTORY OF THE HAWKS/BLUE HENS SERIES
Tuesday's game will mark the 18th all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Delaware. The Blue Hens own a 14-3 all-time series advantage over the Hawks, but SJU has all three of those wins under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray and has won three of the last four:
March 18, 2017 - L, 12-7
March 19, 2016 - W, 12-7
March 21, 2015 - W, 14-6
April 12, 2014 - W, 12-9
Saint Joseph's and Delaware did not meet last season.
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