2019 NEC Semifinals
#3 Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-5, 4-2 NEC) vs. #2 Hobart Statesmen (10-4, 4-2 NEC)
Thursday, May 2nd | 8:30 PM
Waldron Family Stadium | Emmitsburg, MD
SHU All-Time Record in NEC Tournament: 0-4
SHU All-Time Record vs. Hobart: 3-4
EMMITSBURG, Md. – Winners of four straight and in the NEC Tournament for a program record third straight season, the Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team looks for its first-ever playoff victory at the NCAA Div. I level on Thursday night. Awaiting the third-seeded Pioneers (9-5, 4-2 NEC) is a matchup against the second-seed Hobart (10-4, 4-2 NEC). The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM from Waldron Family Stadium, home to the top-seeded Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary's.
SHU is coming off an impressive 17-5 road win over Wagner on Saturday to round out the regular season riding a four-game win streak. Over that span, the Pioneers have outscored their opposition 64-28 (+38), averaging 16 goals per game while allowing just 6.5 per game. The Pioneers dropped a closely-contested 10-9 decision at home to the Statesmen already this season and head into their fifth NEC Tournament appearance looking to make their first-ever NEC title game appearance.
NEC TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Since joining the NCAA Div. I ranks in 2000, SHU owns an all-time mark of 0-5 in postseason games including an 0-4 record in NEC Tournament games. The Pioneers spent their first two seasons in the Div. I ranks in the MAAC and advanced to the playoffs in 2001 (falling to Mount St. Mary's in the semifinal round). SHU then moved into the CAA from 2002-09 and failed to make the postseason in their eight-year stay in the conference. Moving to the NEC in 2010, the Pioneers have seen a progressive climb, first making the postseason in 2013 and 2014 before their current three-year run of NEC Tournament appearances. This will be the second time the Pioneers have faced Hobart in the NEC Tournament, having first met in 2017 where the Statesmen defeated the Pioneers 15-9 in Geneva.
SHU Playoff History
2018: #1 Saint Joseph's 11, #4 SHU 9 (Philadelphia, PA) – NEC semifinal
2017: #1 Hobart 15, #4 SHU 9 (Geneva, NY) – NEC semifinal
2014: #2 Bryant 12, #3 SHU 8 (Philadelphia, PA) – NEC semifinal
2013: #1 Bryant 11, #4 SHU 9 (Smithfield, RI) – NEC semifinal
2001: #2 Mount St. Mary's 11, #3 SHU 9 (Poughkeepsie, NY) – MAAC semifinal
NEC REGULAR SEASON RECAPS
WAGNER RECAP (17-5 SHU VICTORY)
The Pioneers used a dominating 13-3 run between the second and third quarters to defeat Wagner, 17-5, and earn a bid into the NEC Tournament. The win sealed a 4-2 record in NEC play for the Pioneers, tied for the most NEC victories in a single-season in program history. Max Tuttle made history, passing Stephen Grabow '03 for the all-time SHU record for most career goals with 131. Joe Saggese also etched his name into the record books, becoming the first player in program history to reach the 200-career point milestone. Logan Liljeberg led the charge on the day for SHU with a career-high six points as he scored four times (career-high) and dished out two assists as he led a Pioneer contingent that included five who tallied multi-goal games. SHU also racked up a single-game program record 22 caused turnovers as Wagner went 16-for-29 on clearing attempts and was forced into 28 turnovers for th game.
SAINT JOE'S RECAP (19-4 SHU VICTORY)
SHU dominated the action from start to finish, toppling the Hawks 19-4 in a 15-goal victory from Campus Field. On a day where the Pioneers held the Hawks scoreless for 32:18 straight minutes and outscored SJU 14-1 across the final 47:02 of play. This marks the largest conference win in program history, besting a previous 18-4 win over Wagner on April 2, 2011. Meanwhile, SHU's 19 goals scored set a new season-high (previous highest was in a 18-11 win over Furman) while the total stands as the Pioneers' second-most goals scored in an NEC game in program history. Brooks Dutton spearheaded a tremendous defensive effort, notching 13 saves while allowing a career-low four goals.
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.
SCORING RECORDS BROKEN IN 2019
Joe Saggese made history, matching the program's Div. I (since 2000) single-game points record with eight (three goals, five assists) while becoming the all-time program leader in career points with 201 (124 goals, 77 assists). Saggese also bested his teammate Max Tuttle's single-season SHU Div. I points record as he now has 70 through 14 games this season. Tuttle made history himself as he passed Stephen Grabow '03 for the most career goals scored in program history with 131.
Joseph Cipoletti became SHU's first-ever three-time NEC Defensive Player of the Week this season. A landmark achievement for CIpoletti, he became the first three-time DPOW honoree in a single-season in the NEC since 2016 when Gunnar Waldt of Bryant won the award five times and T.J. Jones of Saint Joseph's was a three-time honoree. Tremendous on the defensive end in the Pioneers' 17-9 win over Binghamton, Cipoletti set a new career-high with seven caused turnovers while he matched his career-best with eight ground balls. Cipoletti's seven caused turnovers are the most by any NCAA Div. I lacrosse player in a single-game in the 2019 season, while the total is just one off a program record.
IMPRESSIVE ALL THE WAY AROUND
Logan Liljeberg has done it all for SHU this season, notching a career-high six points at Wagner (4/27) to bring his season total to 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points through 14 games. Through the end of the regular season, Liljeberg ranks fourth on the team in goals (20), second in assists (20), third in points (40), fourth in ground balls (43) and tied for fourth in caused turnovers (13). His all-around work this season is impressive as he becomes just the second player in program history to record at least 20 goals, 20 assists and 40 ground balls in a single-season. TJ Hutmacher's 2002 season (27G, 25A, 45GB) is the only other time in program history that a Pioneer has met those statistical standards.
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 in the month of March and recently finished their non-conference slate with a home win over Binghamton. 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. The Pioneers finished up the non-conference schedule with a dominating 17-9 home win over Binghamton as SHU went 5-3 in 2019 in non-conference play. The 5-3 non-conference record is tied with the 2017 season for SHU's best-ever single-season non-conference regular season record in program history.
SUCCESS AWAY FROM HOME
With the regular season completed, the Pioneers have officially put together the greatest single-season road records in program history. The Pioneers' five road wins set a record for the most wins away from home in a single-season in the program's Div. I history (since 2000). SHU's had previously won four road games in a season twice before (most-recently in 2017). The single-season program record for road wins is seven, which came in the Pioneers' record 13-win 1996 season.
Since joining the Northeast Conference in 2010, the Pioneers have advanced to the NEC Tournament five times in 10 seasons including five of the last seven seasons and the last three in-a-row. Over the last three seasons (since 2017), the Pioneers are 11-7 in NEC play while owning a combined mark of 6-3 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 before falling at top-seeded Saint Joseph's 11-9 in the semifinal round. 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 14 games in 2019, the Pioneers are averaging 14.00 goals per game to give SHU the 10th-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 13-of-14 games in 2019. In the nine Pioneer victories this season, SHU is averaging an impressive 16.11 goals per game. Leading the charge offensively is the dynamic senior tandem of Joe Saggese (70P, 42G, 28A) and Max Tuttle (53P, 36G, 17A) who combine for 123 points (8.8 per game) through 14 games this season.
GOALS ALL AROUND
A balanced offense has been the Pioneers' biggest strength all season long and the goals have come from numerous sources as eight SHU players have tallied 10+ goals through 14 games. That total already signals a program record as SHU's previous highest total of double-digit goal scorers in a single-season was six (accomplished six times, most-recently in 2017). In addition, SHU joins High Point and Cornell as the only three teams in the nation who feature eight players with 10+ goals. Joe Saggese (42), Max Tuttle (36), Connor O'Reilly (21), Logan Liljeberg (20), Alex Weiss (18), Drew Edwards (14), Reed Avveduti (12) and Jaden Walcot (11) have all reached 10+ goal totals and have combined for 157 of the Pioneers' total 196 goals scored this season.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
In terms of huge keys to the Pioneers' success this season, the magic number all year has been 12. SHU is 9-0 in 2019 when the Pioneers score at least 12 goals in a game. In all five of SHU's losses this season, the Pioneers have failed to score more than 11 goals while SHU has scored 16 goals in all but two of their nine wins on the season. SHU has been outshot in just three of their 14 games this season (1-2 record in those three instances) while their opposition has committed more turnovers in 10-of-14 games this season (7-3 record in those 10 games where SHU wins the turnover battle). One area in which SHU has struggled is the faceoff 'X' as their opponents have won the faceoff margin in 11-of-14 contests in 2019 but SHU has won the faceoff battle in each of the last two games heading into the postseason.
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: JOE SAGGESE
2019 Stats: 70 points, 42 goals, 28 assists, 36 ground balls in 14 games
Career Stats: 201 points, 124 goals, 77 assists, 93 ground balls in 58 games
Saggese recently passed Dave Root '96 for first place on SHU's all-time career points record with 201 while also sitting third all-time in both goals (124) and assists (77). Saggese set a career-high and tied a SHU Div. I single-game record with eight points in a home win over Binghamton. He also scored five goals in a 16-12 win at Hartford to become the fifth Pioneer in program history to score 100 career goals. Posting an incredible 2019 campaign, Saggese leads the team with 70 points this season and has gone for at least five points in 8-of-14 games in 2019. He leads the NEC in points (70) while sitting second in goals (42) and tied for second in assists (28). Owner of the fourth-longest active point streak in the nation (45 games), his 5.00 points per game sits first in the NEC and 9th in the nation. Saggese is eight points away from matching the SHU all-time single-season points record (Root's 78 in 1995).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: MAX TUTTLE
2019 Stats: 53 points, 36 goals, 17 assists, 53 ground balls in 14 games
Career Stats: 193 points, 131 goals, 62 assists, 134 ground balls in 60 games
Fresh off earning an Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American Second Team nod, Tuttle made history in the regular season finale as he passed Stephen Grabow '03 for the all-time SHU career goals record. Tuttle enters the postseason with 131 career goals while he sits behind teammate Joe Saggese (201) and Dave Root '96 (194) for the all-time SHU lead in career points (193) while also sitting seventh in assists (62). One of the greatest players in program history, Tuttle became the first player in program history taken in the MLL Draft first round (sixth overall) and recently doubled-up after being taken 15th overall in the inaugural Premier Lacrosse League College Draft.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LOGAN LILJEBERG
2019 Stats: 40 points, 20 goals, 20 assists, 43 ground balls, 13 caused turnovers in 14 games
Career Stats: 71 points, 34 goals, 27 assists, 68 ground balls, 14 caused turnovers in 29 games
Perhaps the best all-around player on the team, Logan Liljeberg does everything for the Pioneers as he ranks third on the team in points (40), fourth in goals (20), second in assists (20), fourth in ground balls (43) and tied for fourth in caused turnovers (13). He is one of just two players in the nation, joining Robert Morris' Tyson Gibson, with at least 20 goals, 20 assists and 40 ground balls this season. Liljeberg has already established new single-season career-highs in every statistical category and is coming off a career-high six-point outburst at Wagner (4/27). Through two seasons, Liljeberg is riding a 29-game point streak as he recorded at least one point in all 29 SHU games since 2018. In addition, Liljeberg's 29-game point streak is tied for the 18th-longest active streak in the nation and fourth-longest among sophomores.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: JOSEPH CIPOLETTI
2019 Stats: 38 caused turnovers, 61 ground balls, three points (one goal, two assists) in 12 games
Career Stats: 69 caused turnovers, 110 ground balls, nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 49 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 (61) and ground balls per game (5.08, 39th in the nation) and is excelling with 3.17 caused turnovers per game which ranks second in the nation. Cipoletti's 38 caused turnovers in 12 games this season leads the team and NEC, giving the Pioneers two players ranked Top 10 in the country in that stat category. His 69 career caused turnovers rank fourth all-time at SHU and his 38 this season is already the second-highest single-season total in program history.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LANDON KRAMER
2019 Stats: 27 caused turnovers, 30 ground balls, three points (two goals, one assist) in 13 games
Career Stats: 40 caused turnovers, 56 ground balls, 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 47 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 13 appearances in 2019, Kramer has 27 caused turnovers to go along with 30 ground balls. His 27 caused turnovers are tied for the ninth-highest total of any player in the country while he ranks 10th in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.08). 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: BROOKS DUTTON
2019 Stats: 9-5 record, 11.24 GAA, 50.3 save percentage, 156 saves in 821:50 minutes across 14 games
Career Stats: 24-16 record, 10.87 GAA, 49.6 save percentage, 425 saves in 2379:55 minutes across 42 games
With nearly three 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 24 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 425 career saves and currently owns the second-best career goals-against average at 10.87. Dutton recently posted his best game of the season, notching 13 saves while allowing a career-low four goals as he spearheaded a tremendous defensive effort in a 19-4 home win over Saint Joseph's. His .765 save percentage on the day also set a new career-high for the junior.