GNAC Championship Preview: #2 Lasell @ #1 Saint Joseph's

GNAC Championship Preview: #2 Lasell @ #1 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (18-1, 7-0 GNAC) will host #2 Lasell College (14-6, 6-1 GNAC) in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Field Hockey Championship at the SJC Athletics Complex on Sunday at 1:00 PM.

BRACKETOLOGY:

Friday, October 26 / Sunday, October 28 - First Round

Game 1: #4 Simmons 2, #5 Johnson & Wales 0 | BOX

Game 2: #3 Colby-Sawyer 4, #6 Anna Maria 1 | BOX

Wednesday, October 31 - Semifinals

Game 3: #1 Saint Joseph's 6, #4 Simmons 0 | BOX

Game 4: #2 Lasell 5, #3 Colby-Sawyer 1 | BOX

Sunday, November 4 - Final

Game 5: #2 Lasell @ Saint Joseph's - 1:00 PM | LS | V

WHAT'S NEXT?

The winner of the GNAC Championship game earns an automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA DIII Field Hockey Championship, which begins on Wednesday, November 7th.

LAST TIME OUT:

The Monks advanced to the GNAC Championship – for the fourth consecutive season – after toppling fourth-seeded Simmons University by a 6-0 score in semifinal action on Wednesday evening. Freshman Emma Rutledge (Alfred, Maine) led the offensive effort with three goals and an assist for seven total points in the triumph and senior keeper Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine) made one save to help the Monks advance.

Saint Joseph's held considerable leads in shots (19-3), shots on goal (13-1), and penalty corners (14-2) in the semifinal victory.

The Lasers defeated #3 Colby-Sawyer College, 5-1, in the other conference semifinal on Wednesday evening to advance to the GNAC Championship for the second straight year. Junior Mindy Esposito (Sunderland, Mass.) and senior Julia Franzik (Wallingford, Conn.) tallied a goal and an assist apiece and freshman goalie Sofia Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass.) turned away nine shots in the second-round triumph.

Lasell held advantages in shots (23-12), shots on goal (19-11), and penalty corners (13-5) in the win.

FACTS & FIGURES:

Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks are enjoying the finest season in program history and have set new SJC single-season records for wins, goals (90), assists (72), points (252), shots (454), and shutouts (12)
  • Saint Joseph's ranks among the NCAA DIII leaders in assists per game (1st, 3.74), points per game (1st, 13.21), penalty corners per game (2nd, 14.21), scoring margin (2nd, 4.11), goals per game (3rd, 4.74), winning percentage (3rd, .947), scoring average (3rd, 4.68), shutouts per game (5th, 0.63), save percentage (8th, .847), and goals-against average (8th, 0.57)
  • St. Joe's heads into the championship game riding an 11-game winning streak and has not suffered a loss at the hands of a GNAC opponent since falling to Lasell, 2-1, on October 7th, 2017 (12 games)
  • Including Wednesday's win over Simmons, the Monks have outscored conference opponents by 44-2 margin this fall with six shutouts in eight contests

Lasell:

  • The Lasers lead the conference in shot-on-goal percentage (.762) and second in goals (82), shots (387), shots on goal (295), shots per game (19.4), assists (45), and penalty corners (193)
  • In seven regular season games, Lasell outscored GNAC opponents by a 33-15 margin
  • The Lasers are 6-2 in away games this fall and dropped just one road game during the month of October – a 5-1 setback at the hands of the Monks on October 24th

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Saint Joseph's:

  • Freshman forward Emma Rutledge (Alfred, Maine) leads the team in points (46), assists (tied, 14), shots (95), and shots on goal (71) and ranks second on the squad in goals (16); she has been named as the GNAC Rookie of the Week twice this season
  • Junior forward Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine) leads the Monks in goals (18) and game-winners (5) and ranks second on the team in points (42), shots (70), and shots on goal (49); the reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Year has garnered a pair of GNAC Player of the Week honors this fall
  • Sophomore midfielder Alexandra Belaire (Greene, Maine) is currently third on the team in goals (11), assists (10), points (32), shots on goal (37), and shots (53); Belaire has also earned two GNAC Player of the Week awards this fall

Lasell:

  • Senior Cailin Flannery (Newton, N.J.) leads the conference in goals (21) and points (51) and is third in the shots (87)
  • Junior forward Samantha Taylor (Hanover, Mass.) leads the GNAC in assists (16) and shots (120) and ranks second in points and third in goals (17)
  • Sophomore midfielder Megan Horrigan (Wakefield, Mass.) has netted 15 goals with four assists for 34 total points

KEEPER COMPARISON:

Saint Joseph's:

Senior Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine), a two-time All-GNAC honoree and 2016 GNAC Goalkeeper of the Year, is in the midst of perhaps the finest season ever recorded by an SJC netminder. This fall, she is 18-1 with eight shutouts and ranks third in the country in goals-against average (0.48) and fourth in save percentage (.871).

The Monks' career leader in wins (56) and shutouts (29) is second among active NCAA DIII goalies in shutout percentage (39.3%), fourth in victories and goals-against average (0.87) and seventh in goalkeeper minutes (4961:15).

Lasell:

The Lasers have featured a pair of freshman goalies this year, as Sofia Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass.) and Makena Leazer (Nashua, N.H.) have logged 828 and 581 minutes, respectively, in net.

Rodriguez, the starter in each of the Lasers' last three games, sports a 2.71 goals-against average with a .744 save percentage after allowing 32 goals with 93 saves over 12 starts and 14 total games.

Leazer, who started seven of the first eight games for Lasell this fall, owns a 1.81 goals-against average with a .758 save percentage after yielding 15 goals with 47 stops in 11 total games.

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's Head Coach Rupert Lewis, in his 14th season as the Monks' skipper is 174-88 (.664) with a 29-3 (.906) record in GNAC play over the last five seasons. Under his watch the Monks have won consecutive GNAC Championships (2016, 2017) with a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2016, Saint Joseph's advanced to the NCAA 'Sweet 16' with an opening round victory over Montclair State University, which was ranked 10th nationally at the time.

Caitlin Connolly, now in her ninth season as the head coach of the Lasell field hockey team, owns an 84-87 (.491) career record and was selected as the 2015 and 2017 GNAC Coach of the Year.  On top of her impressive field hockey success, she is also the head coach of Lasell women's lacrosse team and guided the Lasers to a GNAC Championship in 2016.

THE LAST TIME WE MET:

Saint Joseph's defeated Lasell, 5-1, at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday, October 24th. The Lasers struck first when Esposito converted a penalty corner off a Flannery pass just 4:27 into the game, but the Monks claimed control of the contest with three goals in a matter of eight minutes as Belaire, Kara Kelly (York, Maine), and Pomerleau scored to lift the Royal Blue to a 3-1 lead with nearly nine minutes left in the first half.

Seniors Kayla Kelly (York, Maine) and Kayla Veilleux (Sabattus, Maine) added insurances strikes in the 37th and 67th minutes, respectively, to account for the 5-1 final.

In goal, Baker made three saves and Rodriguez turned away 15 shots. Saint Joseph's held considerable leads in shots (30-7), shots on goal (20-5), and penalty corners (19-5) in the victory.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:

Saint Joseph's is 18-4 in the history of the series with Lasell College and has defeated Lasers in six of the last seven meetings featuring the conference counterparts. The Monks have outscored the Lasers by an aggregate 58-18 margin in the 22 meetings.

POSTSEASON HISTORY:

The Monks, winners of the 2016 and 2017 conference crowns, have never missed the postseason in 11 years as a member of a conference and will be playing in the conference championship game for the eighth time in the last 11 years on Sunday. Overall, St. Joe's is 13-8 in conference tournament play.

In 2016, Saint Joseph's edged Simmons, 1-0, in the GNAC Championship and proceeded to defeat #10 Montclair State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Monks' first-ever NCAA tourney triumph.

Last fall, the second-seeded Monks upset the top-seeded Lasers – on their home field – with a 3-0 GNAC Championship victory and suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of University of New England in the NCAA Tournament.

Lasell is 3-10 in conference tourney play since 2008 with all three wins coming in the last three seasons. The Monks and Lasers – former North Atlantic Conference (NAC) foes – have met three times in the postseason, as St. Joe's topped Lasell by a 4-1 score in a 2013 NAC quarterfinal, a 3-1 tally in a 2016 GNAC semifinal, and the 3-0 GNAC Championship triumph last fall.

 

 

#GOMONKS

 

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Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.