Embrace The Championship: Merrimack Defeats Saint Leo to Claim First Men's Lacrosse National Title in Program History

Embrace The Championship: Merrimack Defeats Saint Leo to Claim First Men's Lacrosse National Title in Program History



Warriors Set Championship Records in Dominating Win Over St. Leo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Behind an offensive onslaught that saw Merrimack build a 13-1 halftime advantage over Saint Leo, the Warriors dominated the 2018 National Championship game to defeat the Lions, 23-6, at Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening. The victory marked the program's first national title and the third ever for any program at Merrimack. The 23 goals scored tied the single-game record for most goals scored in a national championship game, which had occurred twice, most recently during the 1980 title bout. 

After allowing the first four shots of the game, the Warriors proceeded to attempt the next 12 of the first quarter. Merrimack went on a 6-0 run to close the frame, which was started by a goal by senior Jack Trask at the 7:12 mark. Classmate Bailey Walsh tacked on the next marker, which was followed by back-to-back strikes from freshman Christian Thomas. Holding a 5-0 lead late in the frame, freshman Sean Black fed senior Kyle Stenberg out front for the quarter's sixth and final goal, which found the back of the next with 0.1 seconds remaining

The Warriors scored 50 seconds into the second quarter, but Saint Leo ended the 7-0 run with 13:55 remaining until halftime. Merrimack answered with a 6-0 spurt, keeping the Lions off the scoreboard over the remainder of the half. Thomas finished the half with a team-best six points followed by Black's five. Merrimack finished the first half with more goals (13) than Saint Leo had shots (12). The third quarter saw Saint Leo go on a quick 3-0 spurt that brought the Lions within 11 goals, 15-4. Merrimack's offense did not stay silent for long as the Warriors scored three times in the final five minutes of the third including twice in the last minute to build their advantage back up to 14, 18-4, entering the final quarter of play.

Needing five goals to equal the all-time output for a championship game, the Warriors potted just that many to cap off the championship-winning effort. Saint Leo scored its last goal at the 10:47 mark, and Merrimack ended the game on a 4-0 run. Trask scored two of the four goals, including the final tally of the night with 1:55 to play in the contest. Merrimack joined UMBC (1980) and Hobart (1977) as Division II programs to score 23 goals in a national championship game.

Appropriate enough given the fact that underclassmen have dominated the scoresheet for Merrimack all season, it was rookie Christian Thomas who led the way with an incredible 10-point outing on the back of three goals and seven assists. He was one point and two assists away from tying the Division II single-game record for both categories. Right behind him was Black, who concluded an incredible freshman campaign with seven more points on the strength of of a hat trick and four helpers.

Five different Warriors had hat tricks, including sophomore and lead goal-scorer Charlie Bertrand (4), Black (3), junior Michael O'Connell (3), Thomas (3) and Trask (4). In total, the freshmen class combined for 17 of Merrimack's 40 points on six goals and 11 assists. Senior Blake Boudreau concluded his incredible career with another dominant showing on the draw, going 17-of-27 at the X (62.3 percent). Defensively, Bertrand caused two turnovers and 10 other Warriors chipped in one apiece. Boudreau and senior Hunter Schmell each picked up a game-high eight ground balls. Classmate Eric Coburn had seven scoops while Black had six. Rookie Peter Brown finished with eight saves to finish the season with a 16-1 record in net.

The 23 goals scored by Merrimack tied an NCAA Championship Game record across all three divisions. UMBC (NCAA Division II, 1980) and Hobart (NCAA Division II, 1977) previously put away 23. Merrimack's margin of victory (17) also set an NCAA Championship Game record across all three divisions. More than 21,000 people saw the game Sunday afternoon as the announced attendance was 21,198.

- Information for this release provided by the athletic communications staff at Merrimack

The NE10 is an association of 15 diverse institutions serving student-athletes across 24 NCAA Division II sports. Together we build brilliant futures by embracing the journey of every student-athlete. 

Each year, 4,500 student-athletes compete in conference championships, making the NE10 the largest DII conference in the country in terms of sport sponsorship. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the NE10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.