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Lake Erie

#9 Storm Men Set For Round 3 With #1 Mercyhurst in NCAA First Round (Video)

Reagan Harding (Photo courtesy of David Dorn)
Reagan Harding (Photo courtesy of David Dorn)

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PAINESVILLE, OHIO –  The Lake Erie College men's lacrosse team makes its national tournament debut Saturday (May 11) when they travel to Erie, Pa. to face unbeaten and top-ranked Mercyhurst University in the first round of the NCAA Division II Championships.  Faceoff is set for 1 p.m. at Tullio Field.

The game is a rematch of last weekend's Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division II Tournament Final, won by the Lakers 13-7, and the third meeting overall this season between the two teams. 

Lake Erie has posted a 12-4 record to date and is ranked ninth nationally in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches' Poll, its highest ranking ever.  The Storm won its last three regular season games and reached the ECAC title game by virtue of its 12-10 upset of second-seeded and eighth-ranked Seton Hill University in the semifinals May 3.  LEC was announced as the fourth seed in the South Region Sunday (May 5) when the eight-team national field was released (NCAA Selection Show Video).

"We're very excited for the opportunity to compete in the national tournament, it's such a big deal for us as just a fourth-year program," said head coach Greg Stocks.  "Our guys have put in a lot of time, effort and worked really hard to get to this point and it's great to have the opportunity to play for a national title."

TICKET INFORMATION: Tickets will be cash only at the Tullio Field gate. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. There are no complimentary passes for the game, per NCAA rules. Also, there are no dogs allowed at Tullio Field.

LAST TIME OUT: Mercyhurst put any hopes of another Storm upset in the ECAC Tournament to a quick end, jumping out to a 6-1 lead after the first quarter.  The Lakers led 11-6 early in the fourth but put to rest any comeback hopes for Lake Erie with two quick strikes that made it a seven-goal margin.  Tournament Most Valuable Player Jake McAndrew and James Chayka led Mercyhurst with three goals apiece while Deven Alves and Mitch McAvoy each scored twice. Senior Josh Becker (Salamanca, N.Y./Salamanca) and freshman Ryan Jurek (Hamburg, N.Y./Hamburg) led the Storm with two goals each. Becker also had two assists for a four-point game. (Box Score | Recap)

SERIES HISTORY: The Storm has never defeated Mercyhurst in five all-time meetings, including an 0-2 mark against the Lakers this season.  The Lakers won by scores of 17-3 (2010), 11-4 (2011) and 16-7 (2012) before escaping with a 13-12 win in Painesville on April 16 this season.  (Box Score | Recap

A LOOK AT THE LAKERS: The top-ranked team in Division II for the last six weeks, Mercyhurst has won 36 of its last 37 games overall, with the only loss during that stretch coming at home to eventual national champion Dowling College in last year's national semifinals (7-6 OT).  The Lakers are making their eighth tournament appearance and won the NCAA crown in 2011. Brian Sheetz leads the Lakers with 37 assists and 61 points while Brady Heseltine (36) and Jake McAndrew (34) are the top goal scorers. Michael Grace averages 8.3 saves per game and made nine in the April win over the Storm, including two in the final five seconds to preserve the win.

Mercyhurst is the only remaining undefeated team in Division II and one of just three teams in all divisions without a loss this season (Dickinson College, SUNY-Cortland).

"We are excited to have another shot at Mercyhurst. Having played them twice and seeing them quite a bit on film, we definitely know how good they are. They have a great program with great tradition and talent. It is definitely a great challenge, but a challenge that we are looking forward to."

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The first-round NCAA game features two of the highest-ranked teams statistically in Division II.  The Storm currently has the second-highest scoring offense in the country, averaging 14.75 goals per game while the Lakers' defense is fourth in scoring, allowing just 6.81 goals per contest.  Lake Erie's defense allows 7.69 goals, eighth-best nationally, while the Mercyhurst offense is ranked fourth in scoring at 13.69. 

Individually, Lake Erie has a number of individuals ranked in the top-10 in their respective statistical categories, led by junior Trevor Tarte (Amherstburg, Ont./Kiski Prep) who leads Division II in scoring at 4.07 goals per game. Overall, the Storm has six top-10 individual rankings, while the Lakers have just two.

ALL-STARS: Plenty of players from both Lake Erie and Mercyhurst filled the inaugural ECAC Division II all-conference team. The Lakers led the way with eight total recipients while the Storm, led by ECAC Offensive Player of the Year Keegan Bal (Coqtuilam, B.C./Centennial Secondary), had seven. Lake Erie coach Greg Stocks was also named the 2013 ECAC Division II Coach of the Year.

UP NEXT: The winner of the Lake Erie-Mercyhurst game will face the winner of second-seeded Limestone College and third-seeded Seton Hill University in the South Regional Finals Sunday, May 19 at the site of the highest remaining seed.