Men's Lacrosse: Norwich to square off with Emmanuel in GNAC Quarterfinals, Preview

Men's Lacrosse: Norwich to square off with Emmanuel in GNAC Quarterfinals, Preview

NORTHFIELD, Vt. - Winners of five straight and nine of the last 11 contests, the Norwich University men's lacrosse team enters the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs as the number two overall seed in pursuit of the program's second conference title.

Head Coach Neal Anderson leads the maroon and gold in his eleventh season at the helm. A three-time GNAC Coach of the Year (2012, 2013, 2016), Anderson notched his 100th career win against Emmanuel on April 20th, the first Norwich lacrosse coach to reach a triple-digit win total. In his 11 seasons, Norwich has seen 31 All-Conference recipients and 31 All-Academic selections while posting a 57-19 record against conference opponents.

The other team on the field this Saturday will be led by second-year head coach Trevor Craven. In his first season as head coach at Emmanuel, he led the Saints to a GNAC playoff spot and a pair of All-Conference selections. Coach Craven previously served as the assistant coach for Emmanuel from 2010 through 2016 and was instrumental in building the Saints' program from the ground up and helping them capture three straight GNAC Championships in 2014, 2015, and 2016. He returned to Emmanuel in 2017 after a one-year stint at Becker College as their head coach.

NORWICH LEADERS

  • After a 2018 season that saw some of the most dominant individual offensive performances in Norwich lacrosse history, the 2019 squad has adopted a much more holistic approach to their gameplan. Despite scoring 51 fewer goals as a team compared to last year's squad, they've improved their goal differential from +43 in 2018 to +58 in 2019 by allowing 66 fewer goals in total this year.

  • Cody Moore is the focal point of the offense, as the senior midfielder leads the team with 35 goals and 45 points this year. His 12 man-up goals this year rank him fourth in all of NCAA Division III out of the 250 ranked athletes and is tied for the GNAC lead with Michael Finn of Saint Joseph's of Maine. He'll end his career in the top-ten in Norwich history in goals, assists, and points, and already owns the fourth best single-season points total in Norwich history with his 58 points last year.

  • Another point of strength on this Norwich team is in the faceoff circle, where the faceoff unit posts a conference-best 59.1% winning percentage. The effort is spearheaded by senior Joseph Santangelo, who boasts a 67.4% (149-221) mark this year, the sixth best single-season mark in program history and the 20th best of 250 ranked players across NCAA DIII. His 95 ground balls on the season lead the conference, and he is poised to shatter the single-season program record of 99 set in 2013 by Nate Fortezzo.

  • The defensive unit is ranked 20th in the country in scoring defense at just a 7.72 goals against average this year. Led by senior team captain Jake Giannelli, classmate Jacob Center, and sophomores Sean Wallace and Jake Trainor, Norwich averages 8.79 caused turnovers per game.

  • The other aspect of the defensive unit, goaltending, has been a revelation this year, as a trio of goalies has placed Norwich at or near the top in every statistical category. Ian Kriger, Nick Kandra, and Brandon Milburn have combined for a 61.6% save percentage, best of any team in the conference, and allowed just 108 goals this year, the second-lowest total in the GNAC. All three took home GNAC Goalie of the Week at different points during the regular season, the first time three different athletes have taken home the conference honor in a single season. Milburn leads the GNAC individually with a 62.0% save percentage with Kandra just behind him in third place with a 61.4% mark.

  • Earlier in the season, Nick Kandra put up one of the best individual efforts by a Norwich goalie in recent memory. In the Cadets' 11-5 loss to conference rival Lasell on Saturday, Kandra made 27 saves on 38 shots against the explosive Lasell offense. 27 saves is far and away the most by a goalie in the last decade of Norwich lacrosse. The next closest mark came last season when Brandon Milburn made 22 saves on 40 shots against Curry on March 24th. Norwich has only eclipsed 20 saves in a game two other times in the last decade.

EMMANUEL LEADERS

  • The brunt of Emmanuel's offense comes from a pair of seniors, as Matt Katon and Ben Hartig-Orr have accounted for 53.6% (81/151) of their team's goals this season.

  • Katon has scored 44 goals this year, the second highest total in the GNAC. He's third in the conference in shots and shots on goal, and his 52 total points rank eighth. Katon recorded a hat trick in this year's regular season contest.

  • Hartig-Orr is right there with Katon, ranked seventh in the conference with 37 goals. He took eleven shots against the Cadets in the regular-season matchup but recorded just one goal to go with an assist on the day.

  • Goaltending for the Saints is sophomore Aric Graves. He's started 14 of 16 games for Emmanuel this year, and in 871:47 in goal has made 176 saves and posted a 3-11 individual record. Against Norwich this year, Graves put up 14 saves on 33 shots faced.

  • Of the nine team's in the GNAC, Emmanuel ranks eighth in both goals against average and save percentage as a team and ninth in faceoff percentage and clears. The Cadets rank in the top three in all four of those categories as a team.

ALL-TIME SERIES

In 11 all-time meetings, Norwich is 7-4 overall against the Saints of Emmanuel. Norwich has won the last four meetings, with the last Emmanuel victory coming in 2016. The Cadets have taken the last two meetings by a 30-17 combined score. This year's regular season matchup saw Cody Moore become the fifth member of the 100-career goals club, Joseph Santangelo tie the program single-game faceoff wins record with a 25-27 day, and Coach Anderson achieve his 100th career win.

PLAYOFF SERIES

There have been three all-time meetings in the GNAC Playoffs between these two teams. The first came in 2013 in the quarterfinal round, with Norwich triumphing by a 13-8 score. The Saints had their revenge the next season in the 2014 semifinals, rolling to a dominant 11-2 victory. In 2017, one of the best Norwich lacrosse playoff games ever took place, a 9-8 overtime win in the conference quarterfinals by Norwich. Current junior Connor Bourque scored the game-winner 1:59 into overtime, watch the clip HERE.

KEY TO THE GAME

When asked for a focal point for this Cadets' team heading into the quarterfinal round, Coach Anderson discussed the importance of treating every game as a brand new contest. "We fully expect to play, essentially, a different team on Saturday," Coach Anderson said. Despite a 3-5 conference record, Emmanuel has shown the ability to hang with any team in the conference, highlighted by them pushing number three seeded Saint Joseph's of Maine to double overtime on April 13th and dropping a game to number one seeded Lasell College by a slimmer margin then the Cadets did during the regular season. After a disappointing end to last year's season in the GNAC Championship, look for Norwich to establish themselves early in the conference tournament in pursuit of their second conference title. 


 

GNAC Quarterfinals

1:00 PM, April 27th | Sabine Field | Northfield, Vermont

#7 Emmanuel College at #2 Norwich University

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