COLCHESTER, Vt. - The Saint Michael's College men's lacrosse team took 11th place in the Northeast-10 Conference's preseason coaches' poll, which was released by the league office today and chosen by the member institutions' head coaches. The Purple Knights received 20 points toward the 12-team rankings while Merrimack College, the defending national champion that sits first in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) preseason national poll, paced the NE10 rankings with 121 points.
The Purple Knights went 4-10 overall and 1-10 in the league last spring, with four setbacks by three goals or fewer, all within the final seven games, including a 10-8 loss to Le Moyne College, the No. 1 team in the nation at the time. Saint Michael's also only lost to Bentley University, which was receiving national votes, by a 9-7 count. Six of the Purple Knights' NE10 games were against teams either ranked or receiving votes, and this year's USILA preseason national poll includes five NE10 counterparts.
Saint Michael's tied for seventh in NCAA Division II in man-down defense (80.0%) last year while posting its fewest turnovers in a decade, its lowest goals-against average (9.57) in five seasons, and the fourth-most caused turnovers (133) in program annals. The Purple Knights reeled off three straight wins in mid-March, yielding only 13 goals in that stretch, when they posted three straight shutout periods for the first time since April 6, 2006. Their shutout streak reached 56:55 at one point, their longest since the 2004 season.
Seventeen newcomers join the squad around an experienced group of returners. Sophomore Jon Lockwood (Norwell, Mass./Norwell), an NE10 All-Rookie Team pick, registered 16 goals, six assists and 23 ground balls in 2018, while junior Alec Sharlow (Watertown, N.Y./South Jefferson) recorded 15 goals, five helpers and 20 ground balls. Classmate Ralph Grillone III (Brockton, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) turned in 12 goals, six assists and 21 ground balls, while graduate student Brian Loughlin (Kingston, N.Y./Kingston) had six points in two games before suffering a season-ending injury and redshirting. The captain has 120 points in 42 career games.
Junior Justin Richmond (New Market, Md./Linganore) won 83 draws with 42 ground balls last year, aided by senior captain Matt Cotter (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxboro Regional) totaling 40 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers as a long-stick midfielder. Junior captain Will Moriarty (Ashland, Mass./Catholic Memorial) notched 27 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers while making eight of his 14 appearances as a starter on defense. Sophomore Dominic Joy (Scarborough, Maine/Scarborough) is the lone returning goalie, having posted an 8.92 goals-against average over 161:28 in eight games, including one start.
Alex Smith heads into his second season as head coach of the Purple Knights, who begin their spring by visiting Dominican (N.Y.) University on March 3. During a season-opening seven-game stretch, which includes a pair of Spring Break contests in Florida, Saint Michael's only plays at home once, when it takes on Assumption College on March 16 for its NE10 opener. Five of its final eight regular-season games are at Duffy Field.