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What to expect from LIU & Merrimack in 2020?

The two “new” Division I teams are moving up from Division II.

Let this be the first post in our College Crosse 2019 Year In Review series. The complete list is below. Expect a post a day until September 2. Fingers crossed.

The order goes like this:

  • New D1 teams (which is this post)
  • Hampton
  • Non conference tournament qualifying teams
  • Conference tournament teams that lost in quarterfinals
  • Conference tournament teams that lost in semifinals
  • Conference tournament teams that lost in conference championship
  • Team that lost in NCAA Opening Round
  • Teams that lost in NCAA First Round
  • Teams that lost in NCAA Quarterfinal
  • Teams that lost in NCAA Semifinal
  • Team that lost in National Championship
  • National Champion

Without further ado, let’s begin.


Similar to last year, we have two new teams joining the Division I ranks in 2020.

But unlike last year, these two teams played in the NCAA in 2019. Just at the Division II level.

Long Island University and Merrimack University will officially be Division I institutions on July 1 and will join the Northeast Conference. The NEC will also be the first team with 10 schools in men’s lacrosse, with NJIT becoming an affiliate member.

We’ve heard to expect divisions for next season, but we’re still waiting for an official announcement from the conference on what they will do.

For now, let’s dive in to how these D2 teams did last season, and what to possibly expect for next season.

LIU Sharks

LIU Post Athletics

Division II Conference: East Coast Conference
2019 Record: 11-5 (5-1 in ECC play)
Postseason: Defeated NYIT (now New York Tech) in ECC semifinal, lost to Mercy in ECC championship
Head coach: Eric Wolf (2nd Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: William Snelders (55)
Assists: William Snelders (20)
Points: William Snelders (75)
Faceoffs: Connor Farrell (320-of-393; 81.4%)
Ground balls: Connor Farrell (268)
Caused turnovers: Ryan Blume, P.J. Usak, and John Harding (15)
Goals against average: Bryan Ochs (9.09 GAA)
Save percentage: Bryan Ochs (55.1%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: FOGO Connor Farrell (81.4% FOs, 268 GBs, 3 CTs, 6 Gs, 8 As), D P.J. Usak (15 CTs, 34 GBs, 1 A), G Bryan Ochs (9.09 GAA, 55.1% SV %, 22 GBs, 2 CTs), M Steven Frank (7 G, 4 As, 18 GBs, 1 CT), M Frank Ranfone (6 Gs, 3 As, 16 GBs, 2 CTs)
Senior scoring departing: 37 of 386 points (9.6%)
Senior starts lost: 51 of 160 (31.9%)

Season Summary

In their final season at the Division II level, the LIU Post Pioneers had aspirations of winning an ECC title in their final year. They came up short, a goal short to be exact.

The Pioneers started their season with four straight home games. After slipping against Pace, LIU Post upset their soon-to-be NEC conference rival Merrimack, who was the top team in Division II in overtime with a wild 17-16 finish thanks to five goals from William Snelders and FOGO Connor Farrell winning all but three faceoffs.

After beating St. Thomas Aquinas, Post fell late in a 13-12 midweek game against fellow Long Island rival Adelphi. But the team rebounded with six consecutive victories, including a 17-14 win over NYIT as they celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 2009 national championship squad.

But the season ended on a rough note, as LIU lost three of their final four games, including twice to Mercy with the second defeat coming in the ECC title game as the Mavericks scored two goals in the final 17 seconds to win.

Looking Ahead

A new era is upon the LIU program starting in 2020. The Sharks have some big holes to fill, including in goal and at the faceoff X. It will be very difficult to replace Farrell, a Division II All-American and a star in the Premier Lacrosse League with Chrome LC.

But Snelders is the team’s biggest returning player. He finished seventh in Division II and first in the ECC with 3.44 goals per game and ranked 15th nationally and tops in the conference with 4.69 points per game. The rising junior scored at least two goals in every game in 2019, including a season-high six goals against Molloy.

Snelders joined rising senior midfielder Alex Russell and ECC Rookie of the Year Jake Gillis as first-team All-ECC selections, while fellow rising senior midfielder Mike Kadnar earned second-team honors. Gillis finished second in the ECC with 44 goals, only behind Snelders, and third in points with 62.

Poll

How many wins will LIU get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    0-5
    (67 votes)
  • 18%
    6-7
    (17 votes)
  • 6%
    8-9
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    10+
    (4 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now

Merrimack Warriors

Merrimack Athletics

Division II Conference: Northeast-10
2019 Record: 17-3 (10-1 in NE10 play)
Postseason: Lost to Le Moyne in NE10 championship, defeated Mercyhurst, Adelphi, Le Moyne, and Limestone to win NCAA Division II championship
Head coach: Mike Morgan (12th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Charlie Bertrand (78)
Assists: Sean Black (75)
Points: Sean Black (107)
Faceoffs: Davis Cronin (252-of-399; 63.2%)
Ground balls: Davis Cronin (125)
Caused turnovers: Carlin Joyal (24)
Goals against average: Nick Ponte (9.30 GAA)
Save percentage: Nick Ponte (56.1%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: M Michael O’Connell (41 Gs, 8 As, 30 GBs, 6 CTs), D Dan Cotnoir (17 CTs, 30 GBs, 1 A)
Senior scoring departing: 55 of 522 points (10.5%)
Senior starts lost: 29 of 200 (14.5%)

Season Summary

For the second straight season, Merrimack won a national championship. But unlike last season, the Warriors had to do it a little differently.

After winning their first two games against NYIT and Lake Erie, Merrimack lost on the road to LIU Post in overtime, where they won only three faceoffs. They would manage to win their next nine games, including a one-goal win over Le Moyne, before getting blown out by Adelphi on the road. They met the Dolphins again in the NE10 championship, but Le Moyne took the conference title by a goal after scoring the game’s final three goals, two of them coming in the final 26 seconds.

The Warriors did make the NCAA Tournament, but they were the sixth and final team in the North Region, meaning they’d have to win all four games as the “road” team in order to repeat. But Merrimack adopted the “six train” motto and went on to crush Mercyhurst, edge Adelphi and Le Moyne, and then capped off their season by doubling up Limestone for their second national title.

Looking Ahead

Let’s start with the good news, besides moving up to Division I. Nearly everyone is coming back. That includes Division II’s best player, Charlie Bertrand, who finished with 78 goals, as well as fellow first-team All-NE10 and USILA second-team All-American attackman Sean Black, who racked up 75 assists. Attackman Christian Thomas, an All-American Honorable Mention, goalie Nick Ponte, and rising sophomores Max Morrill (attack) and Nicholas Perez-Blanco (defense) are other key notable returning players.

Now the bad news. They lose All-American midfielder Michael O’Connell and All-NE10 defenseman Dan Cotnoir to graduation. Both guys were second-team All-NE10 selections. It’s notable losses, but Merrimack should not have any problems finding replacements.

But unlike LIU, Merrimack will have to wait four years to compete in postseason tournaments as they go through a reclassification period. So the earliest we would see the Warriors in an NEC or NCAA Tournament would be 2024.

It will be interesting to see how these two teams do against their new conference foes. I can see LIU Post making the NEC Tournament next season, and so could Merrimack if they were eligible. Both teams will have brand new challenges ahead, but Eric Wolf and Mike Morgan appear to be ready for the journey.

Poll

How many wins will Merrimack get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    0-5
    (37 votes)
  • 44%
    6-7
    (47 votes)
  • 14%
    8-9
    (15 votes)
  • 6%
    10+
    (7 votes)
106 votes total Vote Now