FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Coming off back-to-back wins, the Sacred Heart Pioneers return home to host #19 Denver Pioneers at 12:00 pm on Campus Field. DU is the second nationally ranked team to visit Fairfield this season after SHU hosted then #9 Hofstra on opening day.
About the SHU Pioneers... Sacred Heart enters today's contest at 3-2, only one win off its total from 2010. Sophomore attack Bryan Badolato leads the Pioneer offense that is averaging 10 goals per game, with 18 total points on 10 goals and a team-high eight assists. Freshman attack Mike Mawdsley has made an immediate impact as he has netted a pair of hat tricks and has found the back of the net a team-leading 12 times, through his first five collegiate games. In net, senior goalie Zach Frank has been a rock for SHU, with a .610 save percentage, ranking 11th in the nation. He has also held opponents to 8.27 goals per game. Sophomore midfielder Stephen Kontos is one of the nation's top face-off specialists, posting 63 wins on 95 draws for a win percentage of .663 that ranks seventh in Division I. He has also collected a team-best 32 groundballs at a clip of 6.4 per game, 13th in the nation.
Scouting the DU Pioneers... Denver improved to 4-2 on the season with its first conference win of the season at #17 Loyola (MD), 12-8, Wednesday night. The Pioneers had an extremely balanced attack against the Greyhounds as five players scored two goals. Senior attacker Todd Baxter led the way with two scores and three assists. Freshman goalie Jamie Faus only came up with five saves, but thanks to his defense allowing just 13 shots on goal that was all he needed to earn the victory. Junior attack Mark Matthews is the team leading scorer at 25 points on 16 goals and nine assists, followed closely by classmate Alex Demopoulos (15-9-24). In the cage, Faus has started all but one game and owns an 8.26 GAA and .542 save percentage.
Last Time Out... SHU won its second straight with an 11-6 win at Manhattan last Saturday. Mawdsley led the way on the attack with his second hat trick of the season. The Jaspers held a 2-0 lead after the first quarter, but the Pioneers responded with five unanswered goals in the second and held a 5-3 lead at halftime. In that span, Mawdsley and junior midfielder Aaron Lupo each scored twice along with classmate Matt King adding his third goal of the season. After Manhattan cut into the SHU lead, junior midfielder Matt Ferrino posted a man-up goal and later freshman attack Cody Marquis registered the game-winner on his fourth goal of the season. Badolato added some insurance in the final stanza with a pair of goals, pushing his season total to 10, surpassing the total he had a year ago. In net, Frank provided 12 saves. Kontos picked up a game-high eight grounders.
Last Time They Met... Alex Demopoulos scored four goals to spark a 10-1 run spanning two halves to break open a close game en route to a 15-8 win for Denver over Sacred Heart, in Colorado. Timmy Katz, Bobby Rushton, and Jon Flood all scored twice for SHU. For DU, Charley Dickenson dished out six assists. In goal, Peter Lowell started and earned the win in a nine-save effort, while Zach Frank took the loss, despite making 13 saves.
All-Time vs. Denver... Between 2004 and 2009 the Pioneers faced off four times, with each win going to Denver. The first two contests were played in Connecticut, while the two most recent games took place in Colorado. In 2006, SHU fell at DU 10-6 in the mosty closely contested game of the series.
On This Date... The Sacred Heart Pioneers are an even 2-2 when playing on March 19th. The last time they played on this date, they won in 2005 at Dartmouth in overtime 9-8. SHU also beat Marist on this date back in 2003 by a score of 17-6. In their inaugural season, the Pioneers fell to Southampton on the road, 19-13.
Top 50... Frank ranks for 11th in save percentage at .610 and also ranks 26th in the nation for goals against with an average of 8.27. In scoring, sophomore Bryan Badolato is in a three-way tie for 19th at 3.60 points, and tied for 21st in assists per game at 1.60. Freshman Mike Mawdsley is tied for 25th in goals per game at 2.40 and ranks 26th nationally with a .429 shot percentage. Sophomore face-off specialist Stephen Kontos is 7th in the country with a win percentage of .663 and 13th with 6.40 groundballs per game.
Up Next... Sacred Heart hits the road next Wednesday to take on in-state rival Hartford at 4:00 pm. The Pioneers have a quick turnaround as they then head to New York to face St. John's at 1:00 pm on Saturday March 26.