SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After a marquee victory over nationally ranked Bucknell in last weekend's home opener, the Bryant University men's lacrosse team is back on the road Saturday in search of its second-straight victory and will take on the University of Hartford at 1:00 p.m.
Bryant (1-1) was rewarded for its big effort last week, seeing freshman attack Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) named the Northeast Conference Player and Rookie of the Week after picking up the first hat trick of his career and finishing the win with a game-best four points. He is tied with sophomores Collins Gantz (Denver, Colo.) (1g, 3a) and Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) (3g, 1a) at the top of the Bulldog scoring charts, while senior middie Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) also has a trio of goals on the young 2014 season.
After putting forth just two goals scorers in the season opener, the Bulldogs saw nine find the back of the net in the team's last outing – a trend the team hopes to continue against another tough opponent in Hartford (1-0) Saturday afternoon.
But a win over the Hawks won't come easy. Hartford topped Richmond, 19-11, in its season opener on the road Feb. 16, handily topping a team that nearly handled No. 5/7 Virginia in the season's first week.
"It's tough not to be very, very impressed with this 2014 Hartford Hawk team," said head coach Mike Pressler. "Putting up 19 goals on the road against a Richmond team that nearly beat UVA gets our attention."
Ten different Hawks found the net in that outing, with an impressive 10 markers coming from just two players – the junior/senior attack duo of Kevin O'Shea and Andrew Cacchio. O'Shea would finish the game with 10 points, handing out four assists and beating the Richmond defense for six tallies. Cacchio netted four scores.
And redshirt-junior Adam Yee is ready to take on the challenge that is reigning NEC Player of the Year and three-time NCAA record holder Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) at the faceoff after his own strong performance against Richmond, going 20-of-31 from the X with 13 ground balls.
Bryant will be relying on Massa to get its offense the ball early and often, but will also be counting on the defensive prowess of sophomore Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) between the pipes. Waldt also received NEC honors last week, named the league's defensive player of the week, and has opened the season with an 8.00 goals against average and .628 save percentage in two contests in 2014 (27 saves).
"We have a lot of respect for this Hartford team," said Pressler. "On paper, they are one of the best teams in the America East this year, and they will represent a great challenge for us, especially on the road."
Saturday's game faces off at 1:00 p.m.