Men’s Lacrosse Travels to Wagner on Saturday in Search of Third Straight NEC Tournament Berth

Men’s Lacrosse Travels to Wagner on Saturday in Search of Third Straight NEC Tournament Berth


Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-5, 3-2 NEC) vs. Wagner Seahawks (2-11, 0-5 NEC)
Saturday, April 27th | 12:00 PM
Hameline Field | Staten Island, N.Y.
SHU All-Time Against Wagner: 13-2

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Winners of three straight and in position to control their playoff fate, the Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team wraps up regular season play at Hameline Field with Saturday's conference matchup at Wagner. The Pioneers (8-5, 3-2 NEC) are coming off an impressive 17-9 home win over Binghamton last Tuesday and have outscored their opposition 47-21 (+26) across their current three-game win streak. Now SHU heads into their weekend matchup against Wagner owning a 13-2 all-time mark versus the Seahawks and a win would put the Pioneers in prime position for a program record third consecutive NEC Tournament appearance.

Looking to make their fifth NEC Tournament all-time appearance since the league's founding in 2010, SHU would do themselves plenty of good with a win over Wagner as a victory on Saturday would all but guarantee the Pioneers a playoff bid. There is a possibly where five teams (SHU, MSM, HOB, RMU and SJU) could all finish 4-2 in the NEC which would create a tiebreaker in which the team with the fewest goals allowed against the other four teams involved in the tie would earn the top seed and hosting rights. Therefore, the Pioneers can finish anywhere from No. 1-5 in the seeding depending on Saturday's results. The only possible scenario where a SHU victory over Wagner would not earn the Pioneers a playoff bid would be for SJU to defeat MSM, RMU to take down Hobart and for RMU to have the fewest goals allowed against the other four teams in the five-way tiebreaker.

SHU dominated the action from start to finish, toppling the Hawks 19-4 in a 15-goal victory from Campus Field. On a day where the Pioneers held the Hawks scoreless for 32:18 straight minutes and outscored SJU 14-1 across the final 47:02 of play. This marks the largest conference win in program history, besting a previous 18-4 win over Wagner on April 2, 2011. Meanwhile, SHU's 19 goals scored set a new season-high (previous highest was in a 18-11 win over Furman) while the total stands as the Pioneers' second-most goals scored in an NEC game in program history. Brooks Dutton spearheaded a tremendous defensive effort, notching 13 saves while allowing a career-low four goals.

Despite trailing by two at the half, SHU used a dominating 6-1 third quarter advantage to post a crucial 11-8 road win over Bryant (4/6). The win snapped a two-game NEC losing skid for SHU and marked the first time in program history that the Pioneers have defeated perennial league power Bryant. Prior to the victory, SHU had gone 0-12 all-time against the Bulldogs and were outscored 154-79 (-75) in those 12 prior meetings. After not scoring for 20:55 straight minutes, SHU broke out with a six-goal third quarter, highlighted by a 4-0 run to end the period that saw all momentum swing in favor of the road side. Joe Saggese (two goals, two assists) led a balanced Pioneer offense that saw eight different players score a goal while five notched at least two points in the win.

Mount St. Mary's jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back as SHU suffered a 14-10 setback (3/30) against the Mountaineers in their first NEC road game of the season. Trying to dig out of a five-goal deficit, the Pioneers got to within a 10-8 margin with 13:34 remaining and later closed the gap to 12-10 with just over five minutes left but that was as close as SHU would get for the remainder of play. Six different Pioneers scored in the loss, led by Joe Saggese who pumped in three while Alex Weiss and Logan Liljeberg added two apiece. Joseph CIpoletti produced a stellar effort on the defensive end, scooping up a career-high eight ground balls while matching his career-high with five caused turnovers.

A clash between two Top 10 scoring offenses in the nation heading into their contest (3/23) was anything but what fans expected. Both defenses shined, each holding the opposition to a season-low in goals scored but it was the Statesmen who made the key plays when it mattered most down the stretch to pull out the one-goal win. SHU was held scoreless for 22:37 consecutive minutes in the second half but still nearly struck for a game-tying goal in the closing seconds only to be denied yet again by the stellar play of Hobart goalkeeper Sam Lucchesi who made 20 saves on the day. This snapped a four-game win streak for SHU, which matched their Division I single-season program record while it marked the first time in 2019 that the Pioneers who held to a single-digit goal total. Brooks Dutton played great in the cage for the Pioneers, matching his season-high with 17 seasons while his .630 save percentage on the day set a new season-best.

A resounding start to the conference slate for SHU saw the Pioneers take down the defending NEC Champion Robert Morris, 18-16, from Campus Field (3/16). Four different Pioneers recorded hat tricks on the day (Tuttle 4, Saggese 3, O'Reilly 3, Weiss 3) as SHU snapped a three-game losing streak against the Colonials. The 18-goal total is the most goals scored in an NEC game for SHU since a 21-8 win at Wagner back on April 6, 2013. This also marks the first time SHU won a conference opener since the 2015 campaign while it also breaks a two-game home losing streak in the 2019 season.

Joe Saggese made history last Tuesday, matching the program's Div. I (since 2000) single-game points record with eight (three goals, five assists) while becoming the all-time program leader in career points with 197 (121 goals, 76 assists). Saggese also bested his teammate Max Tuttle's single-season SHU Div. I points record as he now has 66 through 13 games this season. Tuttle is on the verge of history as he is tied with Stephen Grabow '03 for the most career goals scored in program history with 129.

Joseph Cipoletti became SHU's first-ever three-time NEC Defensive Player of the Week this season. A landmark achievement for CIpoletti, he became the first three-time DPOW honoree in a single-season in the NEC since 2016 when Gunnar Waldt of Bryant won the award five times and T.J. Jones of Saint Joseph's was a three-time honoree. Tremendous on the defensive end in the Pioneers' 17-9 win over Binghamton, Cipoletti set a new career-high with seven caused turnovers while he matched his career-best with eight ground balls. Cipoletti's seven caused turnovers are the most by any NCAA Div. I lacrosse player in a single-game in the 2019 season, while the total is just one off a program record.

 A disappointing February that saw SHU go 1-3, including an 0-2 start at home, is deep in the past as the Pioneers won three straight non-conference road games in the month of March and recently finished their non-conference slate with a home win over Binghamton. The season started with a close 13-10 loss at nationally-ranked Georgetown before the first win of the season came in a 18-11 offensive shootout against Furman. After a pair of home losses to Boston Univ. (16-11) and Fairfield (12-11), the Pioneers found their form away from Campus Field with an emphatic 17-16 road win over Providence that saw SHU erase a 10-5 halftime deficit. The strong run of play continued with a 12-11 overtime win at America East power Stony Brook followed by a come-from-behind 16-12 road win at Hartford last Saturday. The Pioneers finished up the non-conference schedule with a dominating 17-9 home win over Binghamton as SHU went 5-3 in 2019 in non-conference play. The 5-3 non-conference record is tied with the 2017 season for SHU's best-ever single-season non-conference regular season record in program history.

With more than half of the regular season completed, the Pioneers are well on their way to putting together one of the greatest single-season road records in program history. The Pioneers' four road wins is already tied for the most wins away from home in a single-season in the program's Div. I history (since 2000). SHU's has won four road games in a season twice before (most-recently in 2017) and the Pioneers have at least one away game remaining in their 2019 slate. The single-season program record for road wins is seven, which came in the Pioneers' 13-win 1996 season.

Since joining the Northeast Conference in 2010, the Pioneers have advanced to the NEC Tournament four times in nine seasons including four of the last six seasons and the last two in-a-row. Over the last three seasons (since 2017), the Pioneers are 10-7 in NEC play while owning a combined mark of 6-3 in conference games played at Campus Field.

The Pioneers were picked to finish third in the 2019 Northeast Conference Preseason Poll, as announced in late January, which stands as the highest preseason ranking SHU has ever garnered since the league's founding in 2010. Owning a mark of 3-3 in the NEC last season, the Pioneers earned a spot in the NEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time and fourth time overall. The seven-win season also tied for the third-most wins for the Pioneers since SHU joined the Division I level in 2000.

Through 13 games in 2019, the Pioneers are averaging 13.77 goals per game to give SHU the 11th-ranked scoring offense in the nation. SHU scored double-digit goals in eight straight games to start the season and have reached the 10-goals scored mark in 12-of-13 games in 2019. In the eight Pioneer victories this season, SHU is averaging an impressive 16.00 goals per game. Leading the charge offensively is the dynamic senior tandem of Joe Saggese (66P, 39G, 27A) and Max Tuttle (48P, 34G, 14A) who combine for 114 points (8.8 per game) through 13 games this season.

A balanced offense has been the Pioneers' biggest strength all season long and the goals have come from numerous sources as eight SHU players have tallied 10+ goals through 13 games. That total already signals a program record as SHU's previous highest total of double-digit goal scorers in a single-season was six (accomplished six times, most-recently in 2017). Joe Saggese (39), Max Tuttle (34), Connor O'Reilly (20), Alex Weiss (16), Logan Liljeberg (16), Drew Edwards (12), Reed Avveduti (11) and Jaden Walcot (11) have all reached 10+ goal totals and have combined for 159 of the Pioneers' total 179 goals scored this season.  

The 2019 Major League Lacrosse Draft was a record-breaking night for the SHU men's lacrosse program as three current players – Max Tuttle (1st round, sixth overall, Denver Outlaws), Joe Saggese (5th round, 44th overall, Dallas Rattlers) and Landon Kramer (7th round, 62nd overall, Dallas Rattlers) – were drafted into the MLL. Prior to the 2019 Draft, SHU had three total players drafted into the MLL in the program's history (Brian Masi 2017, Tim Katz 2010 and Tony Tanzi 2008) and doubled that total in one MLL draft alone. Going in the first round (sixth overall) to the reigning MLL Champion Denver Outlaws, Tuttle became the program's first-ever first round pick and the highest overall pick in program history.

2019 Stats: 66 points, 39 goals, 27 assists, 34 ground balls in 13 games
Career Stats: 197 points, 121 goals, 76 assists, 91 ground balls in 57 games

Saggese recently passed Dave Root '96 for first place on SHU's all-time career points record with 197 while also sitting third all-time in goals (121) and third in assists (76). Saggese set a career-high and tied a SHU Div. I single-game record with eight points in a home win over Binghamton. He also scored five goals in a 16-12 win at Hartford to become the fifth Pioneer in program history to score 100 career goals. Posting an incredible 2019 campaign, Saggese leads the team with 66 points this season and has gone for at least five points in 8-of-13 games in 2019. He leads the NEC in points (66) while sitting second in goals (39) and tied for second in assists (27). Owner of the fourth-longest active point streak in the nation (44 games), his 5.08 points per game sit first in the NEC and 9th in the nation while he is currently on-pace to break the SHU all-time single-season points record (Root's 78 in 1995).

2019 Stats: 48 points, 34 goals, 14 assists, 49 ground balls in 13 games
Career Stats: 188 points, 129 goals, 59 assists, 130 ground balls in 59 games

Fresh off earning an Inside Lacrosse Midseason All-American Second Team nod, Tuttle currently sits behind teammate Joe Saggese (197) and Dave Root '96 (194) for the all-time SHU lead in career points (188) while tied with Stephen Grabow '03 for the SHU all-time career goals record while also sitting eighth in assists (58). One of the greatest players in program history, Tuttle became the first player in program history taken in the MLL Draft first round (sixth overall) and recently doubled-up after being taken 15th overall in the inaugural Premier Lacrosse League College Draft.

2019 Stats: 36 caused turnovers, 57 ground balls, three points (one goal, two assists) in 11 games
Career Stats: 67 caused turnovers, 106 ground balls, nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 48 games
A dynamic defender, Cipoletti is coming off a breakthrough junior campaign in which he led the team with 24 caused turnovers to go along with 40 ground balls and six points. Cipoletti's playing time has increased incrementally throughout his four-year career as a Pioneer and he's saving his best for last as he currently leads the team in ground balls (57) and ground balls per game (5.20, 37th in the nation) and is excelling with 3.27 caused turnovers per game which ranks second in the nation. Cipoletti's 37 caused turnovers in 11 games this season leads the team and NEC, giving the Pioneers two players ranked Top 10 in the country in that stat category. His 67 career caused turnovers rank fourth all-time at SHU and his 36 this season are already the second-highest single-season total in program history.

2019 Stats: 25 caused turnovers, 25 ground balls, three points (two goals, one assist) in 12 games
Career Stats: 38 caused turnovers, 51 ground balls, 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 46 games

Versatility has been key throughout Kramer's four-year career as a Pioneer, as he shifted from attacking midfield to a more defensive position late in his SHU career. Through 12 appearances in 2019, Kramer has 25 caused turnovers to go along with 25 ground balls. His 25 caused turnovers are tied for the ninth-highest total of any player in the country while he ranks 11th in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.08). He set a career-high with six caused turnovers against Fairfield (2/23) and recent tallied five caused turnovers in a road win over Hartford (3/9).

2019 Stats: 8-5 record, 11.70 GAA, 49.7 save percentage, 148 saves in 769:12 minutes across 13 games
Career Stats: 23-16 record, 11.00 GAA, 49.5 save percentage, 417 saves in 2327:17 minutes across 41 games

With nearly three seasons under his belt, junior goalkeeper Brooks Dutton has a strong chance to go down as one of the best statistical goalkeepers in program history. With 23 career wins, Dutton is a near-lock to pass Matt McGreevy '98 (25 career wins) as the winningest goalkeeper in program history. In addition, Dutton already ranks fifth all-time at SHU with 417 career saves and currently owns the third-best career goals-against average at 11.00. Dutton recently posted his best game of the season, notching 13 saves while allowing a career-low four goals as he spearheaded a tremendous defensive effort in a 19-4 home win over Saint Joseph's. His .765 save percentage on the day also set a new career-high for the junior.