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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #71 Mercer Bears

This was Mercer’s worst year since going 1-13 in 2012, their second season of existence.

Mike Slade

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 73 teams did during the season, and an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

We started our series on Friday with LIU and Merrimack as they become the two new teams entering Division I in 2020, as well as our first 2019 recaps with Hampton and St. Bonaventure.

So let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#71 Mercer Bears

Conference: SoCon
2019 Record: 1-12 (1-6 in SoCon)
Head coach: Kyle Hannan (7th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Sean Goldsmith (24)
Assists: Michael Quinn (12)
Points: Sean Goldsmith and Michael Quinn (34)
Faceoffs: Ashton Wood (181-of-281; 64.4%)
Ground balls: Ashton Wood (100)
Caused turnovers: Michael O’Brien and Garrett LeClaire (12)
Goals against average: Josh Tarver (15.18 GAA)
Save percentage: Josh Tarver (49%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Pascal Coombs (18 Gs, 10 As, 18 GBs, 1 CT), D Hank Morgan (8 CTs, 23 GBs), D Jake Saad (6 CTs, 12 GBs), A Mikey Ewing (6 Gs, 3 As, 12 GBs), FOGO Kiel Brennan (45.7% FOs, 7 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 37 of 212 points (17.5%)
Senior starts lost: 42 of 130 (32.3%)

Season Summary

Mercer’s record might not look that good for the Bears. A 1-12 mark was their worst record since going 1-13 in 2012, the Bears’ second year as a Division I program.

However, similar to St. Bonaventure, there were signs of promise throughout the season. For starters, the Bears were either tied or leading in six of their games. Only problem was the team wasn’t able to finish in all but one of them (a win against VMI). They lost four games by a goal.

One reason: A ton of young players played major roles. Mercer’s only senior starters were attackman Pascal Coombs and defenseman Hank Morgan. Despite the very small senior class, Mercer feels very good about their freshmen class and their incoming class. Sean Goldsmith led the team in goals, while Princeton Oppong and Garrett LeClaire were solid and skilled short stick defensive midfielders. Freshman defenseman Connor Purcell started in four games and played in eight, but missed some time due to injury.

But perhaps the team’s best freshman was FOGO Ashton Wood. Despite a slow start, Wood finished second in the SoCon in overall ground balls per game and faceoff percentage at 64.4%. He shattered Mercer’s single-game record for faceoff wins and ground balls in a game, as well as single-season faceoff win percentage.

Another sore spot was in goal. Hampton transfer Josh Tarver started in all 13 games for the Bears, but recorded a 15.18 goals against average and a 49% save percentage. Although he started out strong, there were times where he struggled during conference play. Fellow classmate Bradley Hodoval competed with Tarver early in the season and saw some time, but missed six weeks during conference play. Having him available would have helped the Bears be stable in goal.

Ever since 2014’s 8-6 record, Mercer has declined in their total number of wins. They did have three consecutive 5-8 seasons from 2015 until 2017, but dipped to four wins in 2018 before their lone win in 2019.

Looking Ahead

The Mercer coaching staff feels very strong about their recent freshman class. With guys like Goldsmith and Wood, it’s tough to argue. And similar to St. Bonaventure, many of those young players now have at least a year of experience under their belt.

And add to that, another good freshman class coming in. Players such as Parker Junod and Cole Leggett on offense, along with defenseman Wesley Chairs and goaltenders Colin Kelley and Peter Klueber should help Mercer in 2020. Mercer is copying Denver’s recruiting model and focusing on the best players from the south, such as Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, that also want to stay in the south.

The Bears will need their rising seniors to provide some leadership as well for next season. They have some good personalities and are focused on their goal to rebound from a bad 2019 and to perhaps make a run at an appearance in the SoCon Tournament, their first conference tournament appearance since the 2014 Atlantic Sun Tournament.

Poll

How many wins will Mercer get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    0-1
    (6 votes)
  • 45%
    2-3
    (29 votes)
  • 21%
    4-5
    (14 votes)
  • 23%
    6+
    (15 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now