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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #30 Sacred Heart Pioneers

The Pioneers had two of the conference’s best offensive players in 2019.

Sacred Heart Athletics

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!

#30 Sacred Heart Pioneers

Conference: NEC
2019 Record: 9-6 (4-2 in NEC)
Postseason: Lost to Hobart in NEC semifinals
Head coach: Jon Basti (6th Season)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Joe Saggese (44)
Assists: Joe Saggese (30)
Points: Joe Saggese (74)
Faceoffs: Jake Giaquinto (134-of-278; 48.2%)
Ground balls: Joseph Cipoletti (65)
Caused turnovers: Joseph Cipoletti (43)
Goals against average: Brooks Dutton (11.51 GAA)
Save percentage: Brooks Dutton (49.7%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Joseph Cipoletti (44 Gs, 30 As, 37 GBs, 6 CTs), M Max Tuttle (39 Gs, 19 As, 54 GBs, 9 CTs, 31.3% FOs), LSM Joseph Cipoletti (43 CTs, 65 GBs, 1 G, 2 As), LSM Landon Kramer (28 CTs, 31 GBs, 27.6% FOs, 2 Gs, 1 A), M Connor O’Reilly (23 Gs, 5 As, 10 GBs, 4 CTs), M Reed Avveduti (12 Gs, 6 As, 5 GBs), SSDM Bill Sledge (2 CTs, 10 GBs, 1 G)
Senior scoring departing: 185 of 312 points (59.3%)
Senior starts lost: 50 of 150 (33.3%)

Season Summary

After a disappointing end to the 2018 season, Sacred Heart looked to cash in on an NEC championship in 2019 with Max Tuttle and Joe Saggese back on offense.

But it didn’t start that well for the Pioneers, losing three of their first four games of the season with the lone win coming against Furman. They gave up 12 goals to Boston University in the first half before allowing a 4-0 to Fairfield in the fourth quarter in a one-goal loss.

Sacred Heart would lose three more games for the remainder of the season and would open up March with a four-game winning streak. The Pioneers scored over 15 goals in three of those four games, with their 12-11 overtime win over Stony Brook being the odd game out. Sacred Heart made big second half runs in each game, including an 18-16 upset of defending NEC champion Robert Morris.

However, the scoring went slightly down in their next two games to end the month. Despite taking an 8-7 lead in the third quarter against Hobart, the Pioneers gave up the next three goals and lost to the Statesmen by a goal. The following week, Sacred Heart gave up the first five goals of the game against Mount St. Mary’s and lost by four goals.

Against Bryant, the offense started slow in the first half with just two goals. But the Pioneers woke up with a six-goal third quarter en route to their first ever victory against the Bulldogs. The offense also scored at least 17 goals in their next three games, all wins against Saint Joseph’s, Binghamton, and Wagner. Then came the NEC semifinals against Hobart, who had a 14-7 lead with 4:15 left in the third quarter. But Sacred Heart went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to a goal with 1:51 left in the game. But the Statesmen won the ensuing faceoff and the Pioneers also committed a penalty, ending the game and thus their season.

The keys to the offense were their seniors, mainly Saggese and Tuttle. Saggese led the team with 44 goals and 30 assists, while Tuttle was second on the team with 39 goals and 58 points. Logan Liljeberg and Drew Edwards were the usual starters at attack. Jaden Walcot also saw some time at the position. Reed Avveduti, Connor O’Reilly and Alex Weiss were typically alongside Tuttle at midfield.

On defense, Joseph Cipoletti, Conor Sullivan, and Austin Pavone were the normal close defensemen with Landon Kramer and Thomas Houlihan at LSM. The team had two young short stick defensive midfielders in redshirt sophomore Jake Lindahl and freshman Donovan Lacey. The two combined for nine goals and three assists and were very good on transition. Alex Rice also saw some time later in the season. Brooks Dutton was the starter in goal for the third straight year and saw his numbers be slightly better than in 2018. Jake Giaquinto went 48.2% from the faceoff X and even scored five goals.

Looking Ahead

With Saggese and Tuttle departing, Sacred Heart loses their two top scorers and a total of over 59% of their scoring from 2019. They’ll return Liljeberg, Edwards, and Weiss but it won’t be a lot. Liljeberg should have a lot on his shoulders, but the Pioneers do bring in Stony Brook transfer Jack Walsh for 2020. He should be a starter right away.

The other side of the ball will also have some big holes to fill with Cipoletti and Kramer gone. Pavone and Sullivan will return and Houlihan should move up to the top LSM spot. The short stick defenders all return and should be one of the better units in the Northeast Conference. Giaquinto and Dutton return to their respective positions for their senior seasons.

It might be a slightly larger hill to climb for Sacred Heart in 2020, but it would not be a total surprise to see them in the NEC championship game.


How many wins will Sacred Heart get in 2020?

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  • 5%
    (3 votes)
  • 43%
    (23 votes)
  • 22%
    (12 votes)
  • 28%
    (15 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now