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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #42 Holy Cross Crusaders

Head coach Peter Burke led the Crusaders to their first .500 record since 1988.

Mark Seliger

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

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#42 Holy Cross Crusaders

Conference: Patriot League
2019 Record: 7-7 (4-4 in Patriot League)
Postseason: Lost to Army West Point in Patriot League Quarterfinals
Head coach: Peter Burke (Interim, 1st Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Sean Mullaney (29)
Assists: Will Spangenberg (15)
Points: Sean Mullaney (41)
Faceoffs: Dan O’Connell (199-of-299; 66.6%)
Ground balls: Dan O’Connell (122)
Caused turnovers: Matt Farrell (35)
Goals against average: Jonathan Tesoro (9.79 GAA)
Save percentage: Jonathan Tesoro (48.7%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Matt Farrell (35 CTs, 55 GBs), A Drew Babiak (19 Gs, 8 As, 21 GBs, 11 CTs), SSDM Kevin Hannan (12 CTs, 30 GBs, 1 A), LSM Will Murphy (22 CTs, 47 GBs), SSDM Jack McKenna (3 CTs, 14 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 28 of 223 points (12.6%)
Senior starts lost: 28 of 140 (20%)

Season Summary

A .500 season for most teams can be good or bad, depending on who the team is. But a .500 season for Holy Cross is one worth highlighting. The Crusaders finished .500 for the first time since 1988. And it was interim head coach Peter Burke who helped steer the way. Burke was installed as the interim boss after Judd Lattimore was let go midway through the 2018 season.

The team began 2019 losing their first two games to Providence and Vermont. But for the majority of the remainder of the season, Holy Cross looked like a dangerous Patriot League team. After beating UMass Lowell, the Crusaders upset Harvard for the second consecutive season in overtime. The team then lost their next three games to Loyola, Bucknell, and Army West Point, but they weren’t blown out. Holy Cross lost by four to Loyola which saw the Crusaders trail by one at the end of the third quarter. They gave up the game’s final three goals to the Bison in a three-goal defeat before falling to the Black Knights by a single tally.

That led to a four-game winning streak which included a double overtime win over Brown for their first victory over the Bears since 1961, followed by a three-goal victory over Navy, one that would be crucial for the Patriot League Tournament. After a loss to Boston University, Holy Cross got a big end of season victory against Lehigh that gave them a spot in the Patriot League Tournament. However, the season ended with a 14-5 loss to Army in the conference quarterfinals.

The Crusaders had five players reach the 30-point mark, led by Sean Mullaney’s 41. Kevin Kodzis and Justin Lynskey each had 36, freshman Will Spangenberg had 31, and junior Connor Waldron had 30. Drew Babiak was a senior that finished with 27 points on the season.

The defense was spearheaded by senior Matt Farrell and his 35 caused turnovers on the season, Junior Sean New and freshman Chris Conlin were the other two close defenders that were part of the eighth-best scoring defense in the NCAA. It was a senior heavy defensive midfield with Will Murphy as the main pole along with Kevin Hannan and Jack McKenna as the short sticks. Jonathan Tesoro was back in goal, and junior Dan O’Connell finished sixth in the country with a 66.6% faceoff percentage.

Looking Ahead

Holy Cross has made the Patriot League Tournament three of the last four years, with their best appearance coming in 2017 with an upset of Navy in the conference quarterfinals. What will it take for the team to get back to the PL final four and perhaps finish with a record above .500?

Five of the team’s top six scorers return, with Babiak the only departure. After Babiak’s 27 points, midfielder Brad Baker and O’Connell had three points. The Crusaders need to develop some depth offensively in 2020, with players like Baker and Andrew Helfrich being a part of that improvement.

The defense will be a big area to replace, especially in the middle of the field. Chase Maitland could be a valuable SSDM after playing in 13 games as a freshman. Philip Turner, Ridge Driscoll, and Andrew Ponsetto are notable poles as well. Tesoro and O’Connell are back as seniors in their positions.

As a Holy Cross fan, you have to be very pleased with the direction the program is going after just one season with Burke as head coach.


How many wins will Holy Cross get in 2020?

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  • 2%
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  • 5%
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  • 28%
    (24 votes)
  • 63%
    (54 votes)
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