FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fresh off a thrilling road win over Bryant, the Sacred Heart men's lacrosse hosts Saint Joseph's on Saturday for their final NEC home game of the 2019 regular season. The Pioneers (6-5, 2-2 NEC) look to shake off a recent run against the Hawks (6-5, 2-1 NEC) in which SHU has lost five of the last six meetings facing Saint Joe's. Saturday's game also serves as the Pioneers' Senior Day in which SHU will honor its senior Class of 2019 prior to the start of play. Opening faceoff from Campus Field is set for 1 PM.
BRYANT RECAP (11-8 SHU VICTORY)
Despite trailing by two at the half, SHU used a dominating 6-1 third quarter advantage to post a crucial 11-8 road win over Bryant (4/6). The win snapped a two-game NEC losing skid for SHU and marked the first time in program history that the Pioneers have defeated perennial league power Bryant. Prior to the victory, SHU had gone 0-12 all-time against the Bulldogs and were outscored 154-79 (-75) in those 12 prior meetings. After not scoring for 20:55 straight minutes, SHU broke out with a six-goal third quarter, highlighted by a 4-0 run to end the period that saw all momentum swing in favor of the road side. Joe Saggese (two goals, two assists) led a balanced Pioneer offense that saw eight different players score a goal while five notched at least two points in the win.
MSM RECAP (14-10 MSM VICTORY)
Mount St. Mary's jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back as SHU suffered a 14-10 setback (3/30) against the Mountaineers in their first NEC road game of the season. Trying to dig out of a five-goal deficit, the Pioneers got to within a 10-8 margin with 13:34 remaining and later closed the gap to 12-10 with just over five minutes left but that was as close as SHU would get for the remainder of play. Six different Pioneers scored in the loss, led by Joe Saggese who pumped in three while Alex Weiss and Logan Liljeberg added two apiece. Joseph CIpoletti produced a stellar effort on the defensive end, scooping up a career-high eight ground balls while matching his career-high with five caused turnovers.
HOBART RECAP (10-9 HOBART VICTORY)
A clash between two Top 10 scoring offenses in the nation heading into their contest (3/23) was anything but what fans expected. Both defenses shined, each holding the opposition to a season-low in goals scored but it was the Statesmen who made the key plays when it mattered most down the stretch to pull out the one-goal win. SHU was held scoreless for 22:37 consecutive minutes in the second half but still nearly struck for a game-tying goal in the closing seconds only to be denied yet again by the stellar play of Hobart goalkeeper Sam Lucchesi who made 20 saves on the day. This snapped a four-game win streak for SHU, which matched their Division I single-season program record while it marked the first time in 2019 that the Pioneers who held to a single-digit goal total. Brooks Dutton played great in the cage for the Pioneers, matching his season-high with 17 seasons while his .630 save percentage on the day set a new season-best.
RMU RECAP (18-16 SHU VICTORY)
A resounding start to the conference slate for SHU saw the Pioneers take down the defending NEC Champion Robert Morris, 18-16, from Campus Field (3/16). Four different Pioneers recorded hat tricks on the day (Tuttle 4, Saggese 3, O'Reilly 3, Weiss 3) as SHU snapped a three-game losing streak against the Colonials. The 18-goal total is the most goals scored in an NEC game for SHU since a 21-8 win at Wagner back on April 6, 2013. This also marks the first time SHU won a conference opener since the 2015 campaign while it also breaks a two-game home losing streak in the 2019 season.
A disappointing February that saw SHU go 1-3, including an 0-2 start at home, is deep in the past as the Pioneers won three straight non-conference road games to start the month of March. The season started with a close 13-10 loss at nationally-ranked Georgetown before the first win of the season came in a 18-11 offensive shootout against Furman. After a pair of home losses to Boston Univ. (16-11) and Fairfield (12-11), the Pioneers found their form away from Campus Field with an emphatic 17-16 road win over Providence that saw SHU erase a 10-5 halftime deficit. The strong run of play continued with a 12-11 overtime win at America East power Stony Brook followed by a come-from-behind 16-12 road win at Hartford last Saturday.
SUCCESS AWAY FROM HOME
With more than half of the regular season completed, the Pioneers are well on their way to putting together one of the greatest single-season road records in program history. The Pioneers' four road wins is already tied for the most wins away from home in a single-season in the program's Div. I history (since 2000). SHU's has won four road games in a season twice before (most-recently in 2017) and the Pioneers have at least one away game remaining in their 2019 slate. The single-season program record for road wins is seven, which came in the Pioneers' 13-win 1996 season.
Since joining the Northeast Conference in 2010, the Pioneers have advanced to the NEC Tournament four times in nine seasons including four of the last six seasons and the last two in-a-row. Over the last three seasons (since 2017), the Pioneers are 9-7 in NEC play while owning a combined mark of 5-3 in conference games played at Campus Field.
The Pioneers were picked to finish third in the 2019 Northeast Conference Preseason Poll, as announced in late January, which stands as the highest preseason ranking SHU has ever garnered since the league's founding in 2010. Owning a mark of 3-3 in the NEC last season, the Pioneers earned a spot in the NEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time and fourth time overall. The seven-win season also tied for the third-most wins for the Pioneers since SHU joined the Division I level in 2000.
ALL OFFENSE, ALL DAY LONG
Through 11 games in 2019, the Pioneers are averaging 13 goals per game to give SHU the 14th-ranked scoring offense in the nation. SHU scored double-digit goals in eight straight games to start the season and have reached the 10-goals scored mark in 10-of-11 games in 2019. In the six Pioneer victories this season, SHU is averaging an impressive 15.33 goals per game. Leading the charge offensively is the dynamic senior tandem of Joe Saggese (53P, 31G, 22A) and Max Tuttle (40P, 27G, 13A) who combine for 93 points (8.5 per game) through 11 games this season.
RECORD-SETTING MLL DRAFT
The 2019 Major League Lacrosse Draft was a record-breaking night for the SHU men's lacrosse program as three current players – Max Tuttle (1st round, sixth overall, Denver Outlaws), Joe Saggese (5th round, 44th overall, Dallas Rattlers) and Landon Kramer (7th round, 62nd overall, Dallas Rattlers) – were drafted into the MLL. Prior to the 2019 Draft, SHU had three total players drafted into the MLL in the program's history (Brian Masi 2017, Tim Katz 2010 and Tony Tanzi 2008) and doubled that total in one MLL draft alone. Going in the first round (sixth overall) to the reigning MLL Champion Denver Outlaws, Tuttle became the program's first-ever first round pick and the highest overall pick in program history.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: MAX TUTTLE
2019 Stats: 40 points, 27 goals, 13 assists, 44 ground balls in 11 games
Career Stats: 180 points, 122 goals, 58 assists, 125 ground balls in 57 games
Fresh off earning an Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American Second Team nod, Tuttle currently sits behind teammate Joe Saggese (184) and Dave Root '96 (194) for the all-time SHU lead in career points (180) while ranking second in goals (122) and fourth in assists (58). One of the greatest players in program history, Tuttle recently passed Chris Lukowski '99 on the all-time points list at SHU and is just nine goals away from the all-time goal record at SHU.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: JOE SAGGESE
2019 Stats: 53 points, 31 goals, 22 assists, 27 ground balls in 11 games
Career Stats: 184 points, 113 goals, 71 assists, 84 ground balls in 56 games
Saggese recently passed Tuttle for second place on SHU's all-time career points record with 184 while also sitting sixth all-time in goals (113) and third in assists (71). Saggese scored five goals in a 16-12 win at Hartford to become the fifth Pioneer in program history to score 100 career goals. Off to a fast start in 2019, Saggese leads the team with 53 points this season and has gone for at least five points in six-of-11 games in 2019. He leads the NEC in points (53) while sitting tied for first in goals (31) and second in assists (22). Owner of the fourth-longest active point streak in the nation (42 games), his 4.82 points per game sit first in the NEC and 13th in the nation while he is currently on-pace to break the SHU Div. I single-season points record (Tuttle's 64 in 2018).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LANDON KRAMER
2019 Stats: 22 caused turnovers, 21 ground balls, two points (one goal, one assist) in 10 games
Career Stats: 35 caused turnovers, 47 ground balls, 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 44 games
Versatility has been key throughout Kramer's four-year career as a Pioneer, as he shifted from attacking midfield to a more defensive position late in his SHU career. Through 10 appearances in 2019, Kramer has 22 caused turnovers to go along with 21 ground balls. His 22 caused turnovers are tied for the ninth-highest total of any player in the country while he ranks ninth in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.20). He set a career-high with six caused turnovers against Fairfield (2/23) and recent tallied five caused turnovers in a road win over Hartford (3/9).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: JOSEPH CIPOLETTI
2019 Stats: 25 caused turnovers, 44 ground balls, two points (one goal, one assist) in nine games
Career Stats: 56 caused turnovers, 93 ground balls, eight points (two goals, six assists) in 46 games
A dynamic defender, Cipoletti is coming off a breakthrough junior campaign in which he led the team with 24 caused turnovers to go along with 40 ground balls and six points. Cipoletti's playing time has increased incrementally throughout his four-year career as a Pioneer and he's saving his best for last as he currently leads the team in ground balls per game (4.89, 42nd in the nation) and is excelling with 2.78 caused turnovers per game which ranks third in the nation. Cipoletti's 25 caused turnovers in nine games this season leads the team and NEC, giving the Pioneers two players ranked Top 10 in the country in that stat category. His 56 career caused turnovers rank fifth all-time at SHU.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: BROOKS DUTTON
2019 Stats: 6-5 record, 12.57 GAA, 48.1 save percentage, 128 saves in 658:48 minutes across 11 games
Career Stats: 21-16 record, 11.23 GAA, 48.9 save percentage, 397 saves in 2216:53 minutes across 39 games
With just two and a half seasons under his belt, junior goalkeeper Brooks Dutton has a strong chance to go down as one of the best statistical goalkeepers in program history. With 21 career wins, Dutton is a near-lock to pass Matt McGreevy '98 (25 career wins) as the winningest goalkeeper in program history. In addition, Dutton already ranks fifth all-time at SHU with 397 career saves and currently owns the ninth-best career goals-against average at 11.23. Dutton recently posted his best game of the season, matching his season-high with 17 saves while posting a season-best 63.0 save percentage in a 10-9 loss to Hobart (3/23). He also starred in an 11-8 road win at Bryant, posting 11 saves while allowing a season-low eight goals to the Bulldogs.