PHILADELPHIA – The top-seeded Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (11-3, 6-0 NEC) will face third-seeded Robert Morris (11-4, 4-2 NEC) in the 2018 Northeast Conference Championship title game this Saturday, May 5. Opening face-off is set for noon on Sweeney Field. The winner of the game will receive the NEC's automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship.
Saint Joseph's will be making its third title-game appearance in the last four years.
The Hawks are in the midst of a program-record, 11-game winning streak after defeating fourth-seeded Sacred Heart, 11-9, in the NEC semis on Thursday, while the Colonials upset second-seeded Bryant, 12-5, in the second game of the NEC semis. RMU has won five of its last six, with the loss coming to SJU on April 28.
Saint Joseph's will enter its second game as a Top 20 team 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. Robert Morris received votes in both polls.
Live streaming of Saturday's game will be available free of charge through NEC Front Row. For system requirements and best streaming practices, please visit: NEC Front Row. The game will also be streamed on ESPN3. Live stats will be provided at SJUHawks.com.
Last time out against Robert Morris, just six days ago on April 28, the Hawks took home an 8-7 road win to close the NEC regular season at 6-0 and to claim the NEC regular-season title. Trailing by two at the 14:10 mark of the third quarter, the Hawks stormed back to score four in a row and NEC All-Second Team and All-Rookie Team goalkeeper Mike Adler made a key save with 1:38 to play for the victory.
Adler backstopped the defensive unit of starting defensemen Nick Buckley, Brendan McNicholas, and Tyler Makar and defensive midfielders Austin Smith, who was monstrous with four ground balls and four caused turnovers, Davis Stoner, Will McNamara, and Liam Hare. Senior midfielders Kyle Cain (2g, 1a) and Hayes McGinley (2g) led the Hawks with multi-goal performances.
SJU ranks second in the conference and eighth nationally in scoring defense at a clip of 7.93 goals allowed per game. The backbone of the defensive unit is Adler, who ranks second in the league and in the top-ten nationally in save percentage (60.0%), saves per game (12.00), and goals against average (8.09).
It will be a battle in the cage on Saturday as the Hawks' offensive unit goes up against RMU goalkeeper Alex Heger, the NEC leader in save percentage (60.9%) and goals against average (7.49).
11 IN A ROW
With their 11-9 win over Sacred Heart on Thursday afternoon, the Hawks earned their 11th-consecutive win to extend the program's longest single-season winning streak and to match the program's single-season record for wins. 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 59 days (as of Friday, May 4), 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 128 career goals with a minimum of one postseason game remaining in his collegiate career.
Through 14 games, junior attackman Chris Blewitt leads the squad with 47 points on a team-high 25 goals and a team-high 22 assists while graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo (23g, 12a) and senior midfielder Kyle Cain (19g, 15a) have added 30+ points apiece. Senior midfielder Hayes McGinley (16g, 3a) and rookie attackman Shane Fable (14g, 5a) rounded out SJU's top-five offensive factors.
The veteran trio of NEC First Team long stick midfielder Austin Smith (4g, 6a, team-high 45 ground balls, team-high 15 caused turnovers), senior short stick defensive midfielder Davis Stoner (6g, 3a, 42gb, 13ct), graduate student midfielder Will McNamara (8g, 5a, 30gb), who has turned the ball over just once through 14 games, and sophomore long stick midfielder Liam Hare (20gb) have completely dominated the transition game this year in all 14 games. SJU's top face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza (83-of-175) owns a 47.4 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 (10-3, 6-0 NEC) anchors SJU's defensive unit with a 60.0 save percentage and 8.09 goals against average with 156 saves vs. 104 goals allowed in 770:55.
SCOUTING ROBERT MORRIS
After dropping two of its first three to open the season with an 11-7 loss at then-#7/8 Rutgers, a 15-7 road win over Bellarmine, and a 12-11 loss to then-RV Georgetown, the Colonials won five in a row of then-#16/15 Penn State, 12-9, High Point, 16-11, then-#19/18 Marquette, 12-2, Sacred Heart, 12-8, and Mount St. Mary's, 15-5. Robert Morris then dropped a 10-7 home contest to Bryant before bouncing back with four consecutive wins against Hobart, 10-9 OT, Canisius, 11-9, Cleveland State, 14-5, and Wagner, 15-5. The Colonials then dropped an 8-7 decision to the Hawks before taking down Bryant, 12-5, in the NEC semis on Thursday.
Jimmy Perkins (26g, 27a), Matt Schmidt (31, 13a), and Tyson Gibson (19g, 22a) lead the Colonials in scoring while Trey Arnold owns a 43.4% clip from the X with numbers of 122-of-281 to go with a team-high 48 ground balls. Zachary Bryant (33 ground balls, team-high 35 caused turnovers) disrupts on the defensive end while Alex Heger (11-4) owns a 60.9 save percentage and 7.51 goals against average in 886:40, all but 12:27 on the season.
Saturday’s game will mark the eighth all-time meeting between Saint Joseph’s and Robert Morris. The Hawks lead the series 5-2 and are 4-2 under the direction of seventh-year head coach Taylor Wray.
All-time series results are listed below:
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)
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.
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.