FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The two hottest teams in the NEC heads into a huge showdown on Saturday afternoon as the Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team hosts Hobart on Campus Field at 12:00 PM. Both teams come in riding four-game win streaks while both sides feature Top 10 scoring offenses in the nation as this matchup shapes up to be a great one.
PAWS OF WAR
Saturday's contest is held in support of Paws of War, an organization whose mission is to train and place shelter dogs to serve and provide independence for U.S. military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war. Paws of War will have a presence at the entrance to Campus Field and will be selling merchandise and accepting donations to assist in its ongoing mission to support military veterans.
All fans that donate four or more cans of Pedigree dog food or four rolls of paper towels to Paws of War, will receive a voucher to attend a future SHU men's lacrosse game as a thank you for the donation. In addition, military veterans in-attendance will receive a free ticket and all members in their group will be half-off ($5 adult, $2 youth/senior). To redeem, they will need to call the box office or visit the field that day.
CONFERENCE OPENER RECAP
A resounding start to the conference slate for SHU saw the Pioneers take down the defending NEC Champion Robert Morris, 18-16, from Campus Field (3/16). Four different Pioneers recorded hat tricks on the day (Tuttle 4, Saggese 3, O'Reilly 3, Weiss 3) as SHU snapped a three-game losing streak against the Colonials. The 18-goal total is the most goals scored in an NEC game for SHU since a 21-8 win at Wagner back on April 6, 2013. This also marks the first time SHU won a conference opener since the 2015 campaign while it also breaks a two-game home losing streak in the 2019 season.
A disappointing February that saw SHU go 1-3, including an 0-2 start at home, is deep in the past as the Pioneers won three straight non-conference road games to start the month of March. The season started with a close 13-10 loss at nationally-ranked Georgetown before the first win of the season came in a 18-11 offensive shootout against Furman. After a pair of disappointing home losses to Boston Univ. (16-11) and Fairfield (12-11), the Pioneers found their form away from Campus Field with an emphatic 17-16 road win over Providence that saw SHU erase a 10-5 halftime deficit. The strong run of play continued with a 12-11 overtime win at America East power Stony Brook followed by a come-from-behind 16-12 road win at Hartford last Saturday.
SUCCESS AWAY FROM HOME
With half of the regular season completed, the Pioneers are well on their way to putting together one of the greatest single-season road records in program history. Winners of three straight away from Campus Field, the Pioneers' three road wins is already tied for the third-most wins away from home in a single-season in the program's Div. I history (since 2000). SHU's highest single-season road win total is four (accomplished twice, most-recently in 2017) and the Pioneers have at least three away games remaining in their 2019 slate. The single-season program record for road wins came in the Pioneers' 13-win 1996 season in which SHU won seven away games.
Since joining the Northeast Conference in 2010, the Pioneers have advanced to the NEC Tournament four times in nine seasons including four of the last six seasons and the last two in-a-row. Over the last three seasons (since 2017), the Pioneers are 8-5 in NEC play while owning a combined mark of 5-2 in conference games played at Campus Field.
The Pioneers were picked to finish third in the 2019 Northeast Conference Preseason Poll, as announced in late January, which stands as the highest preseason ranking SHU has ever garnered since the league's founding in 2010. Owning a mark of 3-3 in the NEC last season, the Pioneers earned a spot in the NEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time and fourth time overall. The seven-win season also tied for the third-most wins for the Pioneers since SHU joined the Division I level in 2000.
ALL OFFENSE, ALL DAY LONG
Through eight games in 2019, the Pioneers have racked up 14.13 goals per game to give SHU the 9th ranked scoring offense in the nation and second-best in the NEC. SHU has scored double-digit goals in every game this season, including an impressive 16.20 goals per game in the five wins in 2019. Leading the charge offensively is the dynamic senior tandem of Joe Saggese (43P, 24G, 19A) and Max Tuttle (34P, 25G, 9A) who combine for 77 points (9.63 per game) through eight games this season.
RECORD-SETTING MLL DRAFT
The 2019 Major League Lacrosse Draft was a record-breaking night for the SHU men's lacrosse program as three current players – Max Tuttle (1st round, sixth overall, Denver Outlaws), Joe Saggese (5th round, 44th overall, Dallas Rattlers) and Landon Kramer (7th round, 62nd overall, Dallas Rattlers) – were drafted into the MLL. Prior to the 2019 Draft, SHU had three total players drafted into the MLL in the program's history (Brian Masi 2017, Tim Katz 2010 and Tony Tanzi 2008) and doubled that total in one MLL draft alone. Going in the first round (sixth overall) to the reigning MLL Champion Denver Outlaws, Tuttle became the program's first-ever first round pick and the highest overall pick in program history.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: MAX TUTTLE
2019 Stats: 34 points, 25 goals, 9 assists, 36 ground balls in eight games
Career Stats: 174 points, 120 goals, 54 assists, 117 ground balls in 54 games
One of the greatest players in program history, Tuttle just became the program's all-time leader in career points (174) while ranking second in goals (120) and fourth in assists (54). He recently passed Chris Lukowski '99 for first place on the all-time points list at SHU and is just 10 goals away from the all-time goal record at SHU. After his four-goal showing in last Saturday's win over RMU, Tuttle has found his scoring form with 14 goals across the last three games. Owner of the longest active goal scoring streak in the nation, Tuttle has scored in 33 straight games dating back to March 11, 2017 (93 goals scored during the streak).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: JOE SAGGESE
2019 Stats: 43 points, 24 goals, 19 assists, 23 ground balls in eight games
Career Stats: 174 points, 106 goals, 68 assists, 80 ground balls in 53 games
With another sensational seven-point (three goals, four assists) outing in Saturday's win over RMU, Saggese is now tied with Tuttle for SHU's all-time career points record with 174 while also sitting fourth all-time in goals (106) and third in assists (68). Saggese scored five goals in a 16-12 win at Hartford to become the fifth Pioneer in program history to score 100 career goals. Off to a fast start in 2019, Saggese leads the team with 43 points this season and has gone for at least five points in six-of-eight games in 2019. He leads the NEC in points (43) while sitting tied for first in assists (19) and second in goals (24). Owner of the fourth-longest active point streak in the nation (39 games), his 5.38 points per game sit first in the NEC and 8th in the nation while he is currently on-pace to shatter the single-season points record at SHU (Tuttle's 64 in 2018).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LANDON KRAMER
2019 Stats: 20 caused turnovers, 17 ground balls, two points (one goal, one assist) in seven games
Career Stats: 33 caused turnovers, 43 ground balls, 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 41 games
Versatility has been key throughout Kramer's four-year career as a Pioneer, as he shifted from attacking midfield to a more defensive position late in his SHU career. Through seven appearances in 2019, Kramer has a team-leading 20 caused turnovers to go along with 17 ground balls. His 20 caused turnovers are the fifth-highest total of any player in the country while he ranks third in the country in caused turnovers per game (2.86). He set a career-high with six caused turnovers against Fairfield (2/23) and recent tallied five caused turnovers in a road win over Hartford (3/9).