PHILADELPHIA – This weekend is about Philadelphia lacrosse.

The Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (3-2) will compete in the inaugural Philly 4 Lacrosse Classic this weekend, a showcase of Philadelphia's four Division I lacrosse teams featuring the Crimson and Gray, Drexel (1-3), Penn (0-3), and #11 Villanova (3-0). The games will be hosted by Villanova on Friday, March 8 and by Drexel on Sunday, March 10.

Saint Joseph's will face Drexel, at Villanova Stadium, on Friday at 5:00 p.m. and Penn, at Vidas Field, on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Both the Dragons and the Quakers received votes in this week's Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. The Hawks will not play the nationally-ranked Wildcats.

The games will be streamed for free on Lax Sports Network and can be viewed on a desktop or on the LSN app.

Tickets for Friday's DH (at Villanova) are priced at $10.00 for adults, $3.00 for groups (20+), and $5.00 for youth (12 and under). Purchase here.

Ticket's for Sunday's DH (at Drexel) are priced at $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for youth. Purchase here.

“We have been trying for years to create a doubleheader weekend with the four Philadelphia Division I lacrosse programs,” said eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray back in December. “It took some time to coordinate our schedules, but we've finally done it, and I hope the Philadelphia lacrosse community will come support the event in a big-time way. It's not often you get the chance to watch back-to-back D-I lacrosse games at a single venue, and to be able to do it twice in one weekend is really cool. From a strategic standpoint, it also helps our teams get a feel for what it might be like to play two games in 72 hours, the same way you would if you were playing in your conference tournament. It's going to be an incredibly challenging weekend and one we hope will continue to put us in a position to compete well in conference play.”

Saint Joseph's enters Friday's contest having snapped a two-game losing skid with an 8-6 victory over Monmouth last Saturday.

FRIDAY, MARCH 8 vs. DREXEL
Heading into Friday's neutral-site match-up with the Dragons, Saint Joseph's rookie face-off specialist Zach Cole ranks 13th nationally in winning percentage from the X (63.2 percent) and 18th nationally in ground balls per game (6.80).

Drexel brings into the game defenseman Sean Quinn, who ranks second nationally in caused turnovers per contest (3.00), and attackman Reid Bowering, who averages at least a hat trick per contest (3.50) to rank in the NCAA's top ten in goals per game.

SJU will look to avoid the flags as Drexel ranks fourth nationally in man-up offense, converting on 12 of its 24 extra-man opportunities this year.

SCOUTING DREXEL
Drexel is 1-3, but two of those first three losses were decided by one goal; the Dragons opened the season with a 15-14 overtime loss to then-#16 High Point before going to Michigan and winning, 17-16, in double overtime. Drexel returned home to suffer a 13-12 defeat to Albany and followed up with a 19-12 loss down at Jacksonville this past Saturday.

Reid Bowering (14g, 1a), Marshal King (5g, 8a), and Matthew Varian (8g, 2a) lead Drexel with double-digit points while Jimmeh Koita has gone 53.4 percent (62-for-116) with 32 ground balls from the face-off. The Dragons have utilized two goalkeepers, but John Roulston (1-2) earned the win over Michigan and played the full 60:00 last time out.

HISTORY OF THE HAWKS/DRAGONS SERIES
Friday's game will mark the 26th all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Drexel. The Dragons own a 24-2 all-time series advantage over the Hawks, but SJU broke through with a 10-9 win over Drexel on Sweeney Field last spring, when then-redshirt freshman midfielder Nick Vernacchio scored his first collegiate goal with 26 seconds left in regulation to lead the Crimson and Gray to victory. The Hawks and Dragons have played every year since SJU began its program in 1993.

All-time series results:
2018 - W - 10-9 - Home
2017 - L - 12-8 - Away
2016 - L - 10-9 - Home
2015 - L - 11-7 - Away
2014 - L - 14-10 - Home
2013 - L - 16-3 - Away
2012 - L - 8-4 - Home
2011 - L - 10-5 - Away
2010 - L - 19-5 - Away
2009 - L - 8-4 - Home
2008 - L - 12-5 - Away
2007 - L - 11-3 - Home
2006 - L - 7-6 - Away
2005 - L - 13-4 - Home
2004 - L - 12-4 - Away
2003 - L - 11-5 - Neutral (Played at Penn’s Franklin Field)
2002 - L - 11-8 - Away
2001 - L - 12-11 - Home
2000 - W - 10-9 - Away
1999 - L - 10-7 - Home
1998 - L - 21-11 - Away
1997 - L - 14-13 (OT) - Home
1996 - L - 21-4 - Away
1995 - L - 17-8 - Home
1994 - L - 13-5 - Away
1993 - L - 23-0 – Home

***

SUNDAY, MARCH 10 vs. PENN

SCOUTING PENN
Penn, who will play Villanova as the late game on Friday following Saint Joseph's/Drexel, is 0-3 after opening the season with a 13-12 overtime home loss to then-#3 Maryland, a 17-7 road loss to then-#5 Duke, and a 15-14 road loss to then-#5 Penn State. 

Adam Goldner (10g, 1a), Simon Mathias (5g, 3a), and Sean Lulley (3g, 4a) lead Penn in scoring, while Kyle Gallagher has gone 55.4 percent (46-for-83) with 28 ground balls from the face-off. Reed Junkin (0-3) has played all 180:08 minutes in net for the Quakers to sport a .438 save percentage and 14.99 goals against average against high-level competition early on.

HISTORY OF THE HAWKS/QUAKERS SERIES
Tuesday’s game will mark the 16th all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Penn. The Quakers own a 13-2 all-time series advantage, but the Hawks’ two wins have come over the last three seasons, both one-goal road victories. Last spring, Saint Joseph’s came away with the 12-11 road win over then-#20/20 Penn, which put the Hawks on notice with the NCAA rankings committee.

All-time series results:
2018 - W - 12-11 - Away
2017 - L - 10-5 - Home
2016 - W - 9-8 (OT) - Away
2015 - L - 11-10 (OT) - Home
2014 - L - 14-4 - Away
2013 - L - 6-5 - Away
2012 - L - 9-5 - Home
2011 - L - 13-5 - Home
2010 - L - 16-5 - Away
2002 - L - 11-2 - Home
2001 - L - 25-6 - Away
2000 - L - 19-9 - Home
1999 - L - 16-8 - Away
1998 - L - 17-9 - Home
1997 - L - 20-11 - Away

***

THE 2019 SQUAD
Under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray, a “new look” squad represents Saint Joseph's this spring. SJU 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, who has made the switch over to close defense, 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.

RALLYING ROOKIES
Saint Joseph's snapped a two-game losing skid with an 8-6 win over Monmouth last Saturday, and a pair of rookies in freshman midfielder Zach Mantei and freshman long stick midfielder Matt Popeck played a huge role in the victory. Breaking back into the first midfield unit for the first time since the opener on February 9, Mantei recorded a season-high three points (2g, 1a) while Popeck was good for three ground balls and four caused turnovers on the defensive side of the ball.

GOALS ON GOALS ON GOALS!
Saint Joseph's exploded for 36 combined goals in its first two contests of the season with a 15-7 win over St. Bonaventure and a 21-10 win over Fairfield. Despite cooling off with 19 combined goals in its most recent three contests, SJU's offense has been led by sophomore attackman Nate Patterson (10g, 5a), sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio (7g, 6a), who went for a team-high four points (2g, 2a) in the Hawks' most recent contest, against Monmouth, freshman attackman Ryan Doran (7g, 5a), sophomore attackman Shane Fable (7g, 2a).

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 his first three collegiate games, Cole went 52-for-71 (73.2 percent) with 31 ground balls and five points (3g, 2a). He currently sits at 63.2 percent (60-for-95) with 34 ground balls.

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 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 15 points on a team-high 10 goals and five helpers.

ANCHOR ADLER
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 team captains (Liam Hare, Thomas Tarleton, Nick Vernacchio).

Adler has 13 career wins to his name after victories over St. Bonaventure, Fairfield, and Monmouth 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.

NOT AVERAGE
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.

FOLLOW THE HAWKS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Be sure to follow the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse program on Twitter and Instagram and like the Hawks on Facebook. Fans can receive all of the latest news and info on the men's lacrosse program with Hawk E-News.

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