PHILADELPHIA – In a rematch of the 2018 Northeast Conference title game, the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (5-4, 1-0 NEC) returns home to host Robert Morris (1-7, 0-2 NEC) in NEC action this Saturday, March 30. Opening face-off is set for 1:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field.
The Hawks last hosted the Colonials on May 5 of last season, where RMU came away with a 9-8, overtime win on Championship Saturday of the 2018 NEC Tournament.
The Hawks enter this Saturday's contest on the heels of back-to-back wins while the Colonials, winless on the road this spring (0-4), have dropped their last five.
Live streaming of Saturday's game and all remaining, 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.
“As is always the case, we will need to take care of business in our own league if we hope to have the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” said eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray back on December 11. “The NEC has really improved overall over these last few seasons, and I believe this will be the most challenging year yet. We are going to have our work cut out for us, and I know my team will be excited for the challenge.”
SJU brings into the game junior defenseman Liam Hare, who ranks 13th nationally in caused turnovers per game (2.25). The Hawks allow just over 10 goals per contest behind sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler while Robert Morris hits the back of the net just under 13 times per game, on average.
The Hawks are 26-5 all-time in NEC regular-season games in their sixth season in the league. Returning All-Conference selections from a year ago include sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (Second Team, Rookie Team), sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio (Rookie Team), and sophomore attackman Shane Fable (Rookie Team).
DEFENSIVE UNIT OF ADLER AND CO. DENY BRYANT
Behind a brilliant defensive effort from SJU's veterans, Saint Joseph's won its Northeast Conference opener over Bryant, 11-6, last Saturday. Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (5-4, 1-0 NEC) made 13 saves in the full 60:00 and close defensemen Thomas Tarleton, Liam Hare, and Tyler Makar held the Bulldogs' offense to just six total goals and a scoreless second quarter.
"We have three captains at the defensive end, and that needs to be the backbone of our team," said eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray of Adler, Tarleton, and Hare following Saturday's win. "They answered the call and really led us. Mike was terrific in net and Tommy, Liam, and Ty played the way they are capable of playing."
Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (5-4) owns 98 saves through nine games this season for an average of 10.88 stops per contest. Adler has made double-digit saves eight times this spring, including a season-high 13 stops at both Delaware and Bryant. The sophomore sits eighth in career saves on Hawk Hill with 265, directly behind Dustin Keen '15 (276) and Nick Leopard '02 (318). He owns that number through just 23 games played and 1,365 minutes for an average of 11.52 saves per game and one save every 5.15 minutes of his career.
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 15 career wins to his name after victories over St. Bonaventure, Fairfield, Monmouth, NJIT, and Bryant this spring.
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 24 points on 13 goals and a team-high 11 helpers. Patterson led SJU on the offensive end in the Hawks' 11-6, NEC-opening road victory over Bryant with four points (2g, 2a).
Freshman attackman Ryan Doran has done a little bit of everything in his first collegiate season. The rookie ties for the team lead in total goals (13) and man-up goals (4) and ranks third in both points (20) and assists (7). He also ranks third in ground balls (23), as the versatile freshman sits only behind freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole (44) and junior close defenseman Tyler Makar (24) in the category.
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 sits at 58.2 percent (89-for-153) through eight games as SJU's primary face-off specialist.
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.
SCOUTING ROBERT MORRIS
Robert Morris is 1-7 on the season; the Colonials fell against nationally-ranked opponents to open the season (then-#9/9 Penn State, 27-10, and then-#17/16 Georgetown, 14-11) before earning a 15-7 home win over Bellarmine on February 23. Since that point, RMU has dropped five straight, to then-#13/11 High Point, 16-15 (2OT), Canisius, 12-8, and Marquette, 17-15, in non-conference action and Sacred Heart, 18-16, and Mount St. Mary's, 14-11, in NEC play.
Tyson Gibson (16g, 15a), who scored the OT game-winner against the Crimson and Gray for the NEC trophy last May, Ryan Smith (18g, 12a), and Corson Kealey (21g, 4a) lead the Colonials' offense while Trey Arnold sports a 54.2 percent (84-for-155) from the X with a team-high 48 ground balls. In net, Alex Heger (1-7, 0-2 NEC) sports a .427 save percentage and 15.75 goals against average with 90 saves vs. 121 goals allowed in 460:49, all but 25:15 on the season.
Robert Morris went 13-5 overall and 4-2 in NEC action last spring. The Colonials defeated the Hawks, 9-8 (OT), in the NEC title game and went on to down Canisius, 12-6, in an NCAA Opening Round game before falling to Maryland, 14-11, in the NCAA First Round.
HISTORY OF THE HAWKS/COLONIALS SERIES
Saturday’s game will mark the ninth all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Robert Morris. The Hawks lead the series 5-3 and are 4-3 under the direction of eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray. Last year’s pair of match-ups brought highs and lows for the Crimson and Gray; the Hawks defeated the Colonials, 8-7, on the road in the regular-season finale to claim the Northeast Conference regular-season title and earn the program’s first national ranking but fell in overtime, 9-8, at home in the NEC Championship title game.
All-time series results:
2018 - L - 9-8 (OT) - Home (Northeast Conference Championship Game)
2018 - W - 8-7 - Away
2017 - L – 13-7 - Home
2016 - W - 14-7 - Home (NEC Semifinals)
2016 - L - 13-8 - Away
2015 - W - 18-11 - Home
2014 - W - 11-8 - Away
2005 - W - 13-11 - Neutral (Played at Penn State)
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