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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #20 Saint Joseph’s Hawks

With a senior-heavy team, the Hawks were back as the top team in the NEC. But they still couldn’t win the conference championship.

Sideline Photos, LLC

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series yesterday with Lehigh.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#20 Saint Joseph’s Hawks

Conference: NEC
2018 Record: 11-4 (6-0 in NEC play)
Postseason: Defeated Sacred Heart in NEC semifinals, lost to Robert Morris in NEC championship
Head coach: Taylor Wray (7th Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Chris Blewitt (25)
Assists: Chris Blewitt (23)
Points: Chris Blewitt (48)
Faceoffs: Billy Jardeleza (90-of-190; 47.4%)
Ground balls: Davis Stoner (46)
Caused turnovers: Austin Smith (15)
Goals against average: Mike Adler (8.11 GAA)
Save percentage: Mike Adler (59.6%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Chris Blewitt (25 Gs, 23 As, 18 GBs), A Mike Rastivo (24 Gs, 13 As, 12 GBs), M Kyle Cain (23 Gs, 16 As, 13 GBs), LSM Austin Smith (45 GBs, 15 CTs, 4 Gs, 6 As), SSDM Davis Stoner (46 GBs, 14 CTs, 6 Gs, 4 As), SSDM Will McNamara (33 GBs, 8 CTs, 9 Gs, 5 As), D Brendan McNicholas (23 GBs, 7 CTs, 1 G), M Hayes McGinley (17 Gs, 3 As), D Nick Buckley (5 GBs, 6 CTs), M Jason Kelly (5 Gs, 4 As), A Patrick O’Brien (8 Gs), G Pat Dallon (5.43 GAA, 66.7% SV %)
Senior scoring departing: 196 of 243 points (80.7%)
Senior starts lost: 100 of 150 (66.7%)

Season Summary

The 2017 was a very disappointing year for the Hawks, who went 5-9 without star attackman Mike Rastivo due to a season-ending injury. But despite not returning to how he was in his sophomore and junior campaigns, the grad student helped lead St. Joe’s back to the top of the NEC.

It was a tough start on Hawk Hill, losing their first three games of the season to Fairfield, Providence, and St. John’s. The loss to the Red Storm on March 6 would be their last loss for nearly two months as the Hawks would win all 11 games during that stretch. It began with three wins against Monmouth, Drexel, and NJIT. The Dragons were up by three at half but St. Joe’s managed to score five straight goals in the third quarter to take the lead. Drexel tied it at nine before Nicholas Vernacchio scored on a man-up opportunity with 26 seconds left to win it.

NEC play began with a very low-scoring 6-5 win over Hobart in Geneva. The Hawks led 2-1 with 1:38 left in the first quarter before the next goal was scored by the Statesmen early in the third. Six goals were scored in the third quarter, but the Hawks managed to stay one step ahead to get conference play off to a nice start. After taking care of Wagner, St. Joe’s had a grueling 14-12 win over Sacred Heart, before doubling up on Bryant.

Two of their next three games would be record setters for the Hawks by beating Penn and Robert Morris. Both were wins against ranked-opponents, which was the second and third times in program history that feat was achieved. The Quaker win was also the Hawks’ second ever victory over their city rival. Both of those games sandwiched a win over Mount St. Mary’s. But after taking care of Sacred Heart a second time in the NEC semifinals, the Hawks could not achieve their goal of winning the NEC once again, this time against Robert Morris. Leading 6-3 at the half, the Colonials had a 5-0 third quarter of their own to take a two-goal lead. But despite two Kyle Cain goals to tie the game up, Tyson Gibson scored with 10 seconds left in overtime to send Robert Morris to the NCAA Tournament.

Rastivo and Chris Blewitt spent one more season together at attack, but were also joined for the most part by freshman Shane Fable, who registered 20 points in his rookie season. Senior Patrick O’Brien and freshman Thomas Halm also made appearances. Seniors Kyle Cain, Hayes McGinley, and a mixture of senior Jason Kelly and Vernacchio, a redshirt-freshman, made up the top midfield unit. Freshmen Evan Campbell and Austin Strazzulla were options coming off the bench as depth.

The starting defense was a solid and consistent unit for the entire season, manned by seniors Brendan McNicholas and Nick Buckley. Sophomore Tyler Makar made up the final starting defenseman, with fellow sophomore Josh Bosher getting some time as a reserve defenseman as well protecting new goalie Mike Adler. The redshirt-freshman, who was a First Team choice on our All-Freshman team, registered an 8.11 goals against average and a 59.6% save percentage, finishing in the top six in both categories.

But one of the keys to the Hawks’ success was their “rope” unit, which was involved in a ton of transition offense throughout the season. Joining senior Davis Stoner as a shortie was Virginia-transfer Will McNamara, a grad student. McNamara registered 33 ground balls and eight caused turnovers to go along with nine goals and five assists, while Stoner had 46 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers to complement his six goals and four assists. Austin Smith was the team’s top LSM, and like his fellow short stick classmates, he also registered eye-popping numbers with 45 ground balls, 15 caused turnovers, four goals, and six assists. Sophomore Liam Hare was the backup LSM, and freshman Billy Jardeleza went 47.4% from the faceoff X. The Hawks probably had the best transition unit in all of college lacrosse last year.

Looking Ahead

Now for the bad part, over 80% of the scoring from last season leaves, and six of the 10 primary starters also graduate. There is a lot of work to be done for Taylor Wray.

The offense loses their top four scorers and nine of their top 10 from a year ago. Only Fable and his 20 points return to the team and will probably have Halm with him at attack. Vernacchio will hope he gets help from others which could include Campbell and Strazzulla, while Makar is the only starting defenseman left on the team and will probably have Bosher and perhaps a returning Tate Hutchinson as well. Hare is the only LSM or SSDM returning from that stud transition unit from a year ago, but the Hawks also do see Jardeleza and Adler return.

I would not be shocked to see St. Joe’s use a ton of freshmen next year. The Hawks will be a very young team in 2019, but one that hopes to have that intensity the previous teams have had over the last five seasons.

Here’s who the Hawks will be adding to their roster for next year.

Saint Joseph’s Official Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Levi Anderson Midfield Crescent Heights (AB)
Mackenzie Burke Goalie Hill Academy (ON)
Joe Burnham Defense La Salle College High School (PA)
Drew Chilson Midfield Morristown (NJ)
Chris Clintock Midfield Watchung Hills (NJ)
Zach Cole Midfield/FO Lenape (NJ)
Andrew Derasmo Attack Harborfields (NY)
Ryan Doran Attack Half Hollow Hills East (NY)
Robert LoBello Defense/LSM Marcellus (NY)
Zach Mantei Midfield West Island College (AB)
Brandon Meyreles Defense/LSM Yorktown (NY)
Choice Mostellar Attack Lassiter (GA)
Jonathan Oronzio Defense Iona Prep (NY)
Anthony Perhacs Midfield Roxbury (NJ)
Cole Peters Midfield Baldwinsville (NY)
Matt Popeck Midfield Sherwood (MD)
Will Stevens Midfield St. Peter's Prep (NJ)
Kevin Vandegrift Midfield Academy of the New Church (PA)

Poll

How many wins will Saint Joseph’s get in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    0-5
    (7 votes)
  • 33%
    6-7
    (12 votes)
  • 27%
    8-9
    (10 votes)
  • 19%
    10+
    (7 votes)
36 votes total Vote Now