Saint Michael's preps for NE-10 Tournament, hosts Tuesday first-round game
COLCHESTER, Vt. - The nationally-ranked Saint Michael's College men's lacrosse team heads into the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament this week as the No. 4 seed, as it looks to win its first postseason crown. The Purple Knights host fifth-seeded Saint Anselm College tomorrow for a 2 p.m. first-round game. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children and seniors, and $1 for students with a valid ID.
At 10-4 overall, the Purple Knights have tied a twice-set program record for victories in a season after posting a 6-4 NE-10 mark. Saint Michael's, which was ranked 10th in last week's United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) national poll, suffered its four losses by a total of five goals. Three of those setbacks were to teams ranked among the nation's top six last week. The fourth was by a 6-5 count on March 9 at Saint Anselm, which was nationally ranked earlier this season and received national votes last week.
This marks the sixth time in seven years that the Purple Knights will host an NE-10 Tournament game, having gone 4-1 in the previous five seasons, with the lone setback by a 14-13 count against Saint Anselm in 2009. This season is the third in five years that Saint Michael's holds the No. 4 seed and hosts the Hawks as the fifth seed.
The winner of Tuesday's contest heads to No. 1 Le Moyne College on Friday for a 2 p.m. semifinal. The semifinal winners meet on Sunday at the highest remaining seed for the title game.
Under first-year head coach Brian Kingsbury, the Purple Knights reached the 10-win plateau for the second straight season thanks to a defense that holds a 6.14 goals-against average, which would be a school record. Entering last week, Saint Michael's was third in Division II in man-down defense and fifth in scoring defense.
Sophomore goalie Chris DeMairo (Bethpage, N.Y./Bethpage) is third in the NE-10 in GAA (6.04) and save percentage (.596) while having set a program mark with 10 wins. In his first season as a defender, senior Peter Hanson (Andover, Mass./Andover) is tied for first in the league in caused turnovers (37) and is fifth in ground balls (67). Junior Neil Kelly (Narragansett, R.I./Bishop Hendricken) has 43 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers.
The team's starting attack line has produced three 30-point scorers, with junior Pete Donnally (Madison, N.J./Morristown-Beard School) third in the league in goals (37) and seventh in points (43), while classmate Marty Vanzo (Westford, Vt./Essex/Vermont) is sixth in both goals (32) and points (45). Senior Kevin Hunt (Johnstown, N.Y./Johnstown) has provided 17 goals and assists apiece, totaling 34 points. Donnally has 90 career goals, sitting 19 short of the program record.
Vanzo adds 40 ground balls, senior midfielder Paul Tortora Jr. (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield Prep) has 33 ground balls and 24 points, and senior long-stick midfielder Tyler Violette (Amherst, N.H./Proctor Academy) provides 38 ground balls and 25 caused turnovers. Sophomore Chris Casserly (Kensington, N.H./Exeter) is 98-for-167 on face-offs, placing third in the league in winning percentage (.586) among players with 150 attempts.