SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Back home for the first time since March 22, the No. 15/17 Bryant University men's lacrosse team welcomes Mount St. Mary's to Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, April 12 for a key Northeast Conference matchup. Faceoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
The Bulldogs (9-3, 2-1 NEC) return home after a rough four-game road trip that saw them play two games a week for the last two weeks. The trek culminated in a 9-7 defeat to Saint Joseph's last Saturday in Philadelphia. The Mountaineers (0-12, 0-3) come to Smithfield in search of their first win.
"We certainly have had a lot of respect for Mount St. Mary's since joining the NEC," head coach Mike Pressler said. "It's been a great rivalry and even though they are struggling, we expect a hard-fought conference battle."
The Mount enters the weekend after dropping a 16-6 decision last Saturday on the road at Bucknell. They have faced some quality competition as well this year, falling 14-6 to then-No. 4 Virginia and 16-3 to then-No. 6 Maryland. Bubba Johnson is the leading scorer for the Mountaineers with 15 points on nine goals and six assists. Clayton Wainer has chipped in 10 points (8g, 2a) and Mike Pascali has nine points (6g, 3a) for a team that is averaging just over five goals per game. Frankie McCarthy has started the last three games in cage, posting a 10.32 goals against average and a .520 save percentage.
Bryant returns home looking to rebound from a tough conference loss to the Hawks last Saturday. The Bulldogs received a hat trick from Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) and two goals from Brian Schlansker (Glenville, N.Y.) in the loss. Morrell is one of five Bulldogs to record 20-plus points on the year, leading the team with a 21-7-28 line. It was a strong week for the duo as Morrell recorded seven goals in two games and Schlansker posted back-to-back two-goal games.
"The two bright spots from last weekend were Shane [Morrell] and Brian [Schlansker]," Pressler said. "The contributions from Brian and all of our second-line is a very positive thing for us."
The Bulldogs enter the weekend as one of the top teams in the country in faceoff winning percentage and scoring defense. Junior Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) has helped the Bulldogs lead the country in face percentage (.701) thanks to a .709 mark that ranks him second among individuals. Sophomore Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) leads the country in save percentage (.630) and is fifth in both goals against average (7.27) and saves per game (12.25).
Saturday's contest will be the seventh meeting between the two programs with the Black and Gold holding a 4-2 advantage. The Mount earned a 10-9 victory last season in Emmitsburg, while the Bulldogs have the biggest win in the series, a 12-6 decision in the 2012 NEC championship game. Saturday will also be the first game Bryant plays on the natural grass of Bulldog Stadium.
"We endured a difficult four-game stretch on the road and we are excited to get home and play at Bulldog Stadium," Pressler said. "A change of venue is always exciting and it will be invigorating for our team."
Faceoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and fans that can't make the game can watch free of charge on NECFrontRow.com.