FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team continues its climb up the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll as the Pioneers are tied for fourth in the Week 9 edition of the regional ranking list. This ranking is the highest for SHU in the 2019 season.
The Pioneers (8-5, 3-2 NEC) are riding a three-game win streak and have beaten their last two opponents (St. Joseph's 19-4, Binghamton 17-9) by a combined margin of +23 (+11.5 per game). SHU is playing their best lacrosse of the season at the right time as the Pioneers head into their final game of the regular season at Wagner on Saturday. A win over the Seahawks would clinch an NEC Tournament berth for the third straight season, which would represent the first time SHU advanced to the postseason in three straight campaigns.
|2019 NEILA Week 9 Poll|
|Rank||Team (First Place Votes)||Previous Week|
SHU most-recently recorded their eighth win of the season last Tuesday in the Pioneers' 17-9 home win over the Bearcats, which is tied for the second-highest single-season win total in the program's Div. I era (since 2000). The Pioneers are just one win away from matching the program's Div. I record nine-win 2017 campaign. After a disappointing 1-3 start to the season through February, the Pioneers are 7-2 since the start of March which includes a pair of win streaks of at least three games.
A huge key in the team's success has come on the offensive end as the Pioneers currently sit 11th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 13.77 goals per game. The Pioneers have enjoyed one of the most-productive offensive seasons in program history, hitting double figures in scoring in 12-of-13 games this season. SHU's season-high for goals is 19, accomplished in a 19-4 win over Saint Joseph's which stands as the program's largest-ever NEC victory.
A two-time NEC Player of the Week this season, redshirt senior attack Joe Saggese has been one of the top scorers in the country all season as he has racked up 66 points (39 goals, 27 assists) through 13 games. His 5.08 points per game average ranks ninth in the country and top sin the NEC. He most-recently made history, passing Dave Root '96 for SHU's all-time career points record as Saggese has racked up 197 (121 goals, 76 assists) in his four-year career. In addition, Saggese moved into first place on the SHU Div. I single-season points record as his 66 passed the record previously held by teammate Max Tuttle (64 points in 2018).
Joseph Cipoletti spearheads the SHU defensive unit, which has played their best over the Pioneers' current three-game win streak, allowing just 6.33 goals per game in that span. Cipoletti picked up his third NEC Defensive Player of the Week honor of the season on Monday after posting an NCAA-leading seven caused turnovers while matching his career-high with eight ground balls, in the 17-9 victory over Binghamton. He leads the team in both caused turnovers (36) and ground balls (57) as his 36 caused turnovers already rank as the second-highest single-season total in program history.
The Pioneers are back in action with Saturday's big NEC road matchup at Wagner. The opening faceoff is set for Noon. A win would secure SHU a playoff berth and at least the No. 3 seed. SHU could finish anywhere from No. 1-5 in the 2019 NEC regular season standings, depending on results across the league on Saturday.