Merrimack, Seton Hill, Saint Leo and Lenoir-Rhyne Advance to D-II Final Four

PHOTO BY NICK GRACE/MERRIMACK ATHLETICS

Christian Thomas scored the first four goals of the game and finished with 10 points in Merrimack's 24-6 blowout of NYIT in the NCAA Division II men's lacrosse tournament quarterfinals Saturday.


NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — To say Merrimack made a statement would be an understatement.

With a 24-6 win over NYIT on Saturday, the top-seeded Warriors continued their mission to return to their third straight NCAA Division II men's lacrosse championship weekend with their highest offensive output of the season.

Merrimack will advance to play Seton Hill for the rights to go to the Division II title game. With Lenoir-Rhyne meeting Saint Leo in the other semifinal, a first-time national champion is guaranteed.

It was the largest offensive output of the season for the Warriors, and their most goals in more than a year, thanks in part to freshman Christian Thomas.

“At the beginning of the year, the seniors reached out to us and made us feel like a part of the team,” Thomas said. “When we're out there it doesn't feel like upper- or under-classmen, it's just everyone.”

After winning their first Northeast 10 title in eight years, the Warriors' next step is that elusive national title. Their dominant showing at home to kick off the postseason was a lot of pent-up emotion, and the Bears were the recipient of that.

Thomas scored a career-high six goals, and totaled 10 points. For a young offense, led by freshman Sean Black and sophomore Charlie Bertrand, the Warriors play like a unit that’s been together their entire lives.

“We have a lot of guys who were so good last year to help us get to the final and a lot of them are back,” Merrimack coach Mike Morgan said. “Then you inject the young guys and the talent is there. You just hope they mesh, and they did pretty quickly.”

Thomas scored the first four goals of the game, including two within a span of 10 seconds in the first quarter.

It was a tone-setter that didn’t let up. Merrimack poured in 14 goals in the second quarter while blanking the Bears in the frame.

“I talked to coach earlier and he said play loose,” Thomas said. “Shots were falling, and we have to keep going. Can't stop now.”

Even with all their weapons on offense, the team had a focus on finding Thomas.

“A big part of the game plan was trying to find him inside and we did,” he said. “He looked great, especially as a freshman, he's in a tough game and having success that early sets a tone.”

Faceoff specialist Blake Boudreau won all 20 faceoffs he took in the second half. He was taken out with the big lead, but it was still the best performance of the senior’s career.

“We stuck to our game plan,” he said. “I tried to win the faceoffs to give our attack the ball as much as I could. I think we have the best attack in the country so just want to give them possessions.”

Merrimack needs to win one more game to get back to Gillette Stadium just a little over an hour away from campus.

Even though it’s certainly on the Warriors' mind, it’s still just one game, and one goal, at a time.

“When you go to Gillette and experience what goes in it, a lot of us grew up watching games there,” defenseman Eric Coburn said. “You aspire to getting on that stage. Once you get there, you can't imagine anything but getting back. You have to squeeze every ounce out of that rock to get back there.”







Seton Hill Stuns Le Moyne

In stunning fashion, the Le Moyne was eliminated earlier than expected at the hands of Seton Hill, 14-10.

Jack Moran scored three goals and added an assist, while John Hofseth had two goals and two helpers. Max Eismann made nine saves in net.

The Dolphins scored four straight in the second quarter to tie the game at 7 before the Griffins went on a four-goal run of their own. Back-to-back tallies in the fourth brought Le Moyne back to within three, but that was the closest the Dolphins would get.

Jay Scerbo and Moran scored twice to retake a five-goal advantage, and a late goal for the Dolphins wasn’t enough as they were bounced from the opening round.

Ticehurst Takes it to the House

A five-point day from Jake Gilmour and 15-save effort from Thomas Tatarian paced Saint Leo to a 12-11 overtime victory over Tampa on Saturday.

The Lions won just five faceoffs all afternoon before Ethan Ticehurst won the one that mattered. In overtime, he earned possession for the Lions, and scored the game-winning tally six seconds into the frame. Ticehurst scooped the ground ball following his win before charging towards net and ripping the winning shot.

Kyle Pauwels scored his 52nd goal of the season, and his two tallies put him at 100 goals in just two seasons with the Lions.

Tatarian made five saves in the fourth quarter to keep the Lions alive before sending the game to the fifth frame.

Lenoir-Rhyne Avenges Loss

Ryan Bell scored the go-ahead goal with 2:47 remaining and Lenoir-Rhyne never looked back in a 14-12 victory over Colorado Mesa.

The Bears trailed midway through the fourth quarter before Eric Dickinson knotted the score at 11 with six minutes to go. The game was tied 7 at the half, and went back and forth until Lenoir-Rhyne took control.

The Mavericks opened the second half with back-to-back goals, but the Bears had a response every time they trailed.

Colorado Mesa was the only team to defeat Lenoir-Rhyne in the regular season, but the Bearss will be the one to advance to take on Saint Leo in the national semifinals for the right to go to Gillette Stadium.

NCAA Division II Quarterfinals

North Bracket
(1) Merrimack 24, (4) NYIT 6
(2) Seton Hill 14, (3) Le Moyne 10

South Bracket
(1) Lenoir-Rhyne 14, (4) Colorado Mesa 12
(2) Saint Leo 12, (3) Tampa 11 (OT)

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