COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's lacrosse team was picked second in the region in the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's (NEILA) preseason coaches' poll, while a trio of Purple Knights were among 15 players to earn preseason all-region selections.
Saint Michael's, which trailed only Merrimack College in the rankings, had seniors Pete Donnally (Madison, N.J./Morristown-Beard School), Neil Kelly (Narragansett, R.I./Bishop Hendricken) and Marty Vanzo (Westford, Vt./Essex/Vermont) land preseason NEILA All-New England nods.
As two of the four attackers on the regional squad, Donnally and Vanzo combined for 75 goals last year. Donnally had a team-high 43 goals, placing fifth in the nation in scoring average and coming within three of the program mark. With 96 career tallies, he is 13 short of the school's standard. Vanzo posted 32 goals and 15 assists last season. One of four defensemen on the list, Kelly caused 33 turnovers while corralling 40 ground balls as a junior, helping the Purple Knights set school records for wins (11) and goals-against average (6.12).
Saint Michael's went 11-5 overall and 6-4 in the Northeast-10 Conference last spring thanks to employing one of the stingiest defenses in the nation. The Purple and Gold allowed more than eight goals only once, posting the sixth-best scoring defense in Division II, and killed penalties at the third-best clip in the nation. Each of the Purple Knights' four regular-season losses came by two goals or fewer before they knocked off Saint Anselm College, 8-4, in the first round of the NE-10 Championship but lost at Le Moyne College by the same score in the semifinals.
Saint Michael's has also drawn national rankings in a pair of polls this preseason, being slotted ninth by Lacrosse Magazine and 12th by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA). In the NE-10's preseason coaches' poll, the Purple Knights claimed fourth place.
In their first season under interim head coach Pat Ivory '08, Saint Michael's takes on an ambitious season-opening Spring Break trip next month. During the three-game road swing, Saint Michael's visits 2012 NCAA Tournament semifinalist Mercyhurst University, which is tied for first in the USILA poll, on March 10 before heading to New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) on March 16. NYIT is sixth in the Lacrosse Magazine poll.