Bryant Men’s Lacrosse Overcomes Obstacles, Wins NEC Title
Northeast Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player Luke Caracciolo made 18 saves and freshman Jacob Alexander got the better of league player of the year Zach Cole at the faceoff X to lead the Bryant University men’s lacrosse team to 16-10 victory of Saint Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon in the NEC Championship.
With the victory, the Bulldogs have claimed the NECs automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament and will learn its fate Sunday night during the NCAA Selection Show at 9:00 p.m. Bryant is now 6-0 in NEC Championship games and will be competing in the NCAA Tournament for a fifth time.
On Saturday in Philadelphia, Caracciolo matched his career-high in saves and Alexander won 17-of-30 faceoffs and chipped in a goal and two assists for the Black and Gold. Marc O’Rourke paced Bryant with five points (4g, 1a), while Logan McGovern (1g, 2a) and Trevor Weingarten (3g) each recorded three-point days.
Bryant 16, Saint Joseph’s 10
Records: Bryant (9-3), Saint Joseph’s (9-4)
Location: Sweeney Field (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Coach Pressler’s Comments
“Our journey to get to this point shouldn’t have happened. We had three COVID pauses. Our best player missed most of the season. To be standing here as the conference champion is an amazing story of resilience. Jacob [Alexander] was remarkable today against the best player of the year in the conference.”
Alexander won a clean faceoff and raced down the middle of the field to score with 1:02 left in the third quarter to make it 10-9 Bulldogs. It would start a string of five-straight goals that put Bryant up 14-9.
How it Happened
Saint Joseph’s opened the scoring before Trevor Weingarten bullied his way inside and finished high to make it 1-1 with 12:16 left.
The Hawks answered with the next two to make it 3-1.
Bryant then scored twice in the final 32 seconds to tie the game after the first quarter.
Aidan Goltz ripped one home with 32 seconds left to make it 3-2. McGovern then emerged from behind the net and was able to bounce it home with 0.7 seconds left to tie the game.
McGovern’s goal started a three-goal stretch for the Bulldogs that included goals from O’Rourke and Kevin Groeninger to make it 5-3 with 13:08 to go in the first half.
Saint Joseph’s would answer with three of their own in the final six minutes of the half to take a 6-5 lead into the break.
Emmet Kemble quickly tied the game to start the third quarter but the Hawks scored the next two to take an 8-6 lead with 7:56 to go in the quarter.
Alexander won the ensuing faceoff, however, and fed O’Rourke who whistled one home to make it 8-7.
Three minutes later, the Bulldogs swing the ball to O’Rourke and he rifled it high to make it 8-8.
O’Rourke then played wing man, dishing to Weingarten for a long-distance snipe to make it 9-8.
The Hawks would tie it with 1:06 left in the third quarter, but Alexander won the ensuing faceoff and raced down the field and scored to make it 10-9.
Bryant dominated the fourth quarter, getting goals from Timmy Hackett, Groeninger, Bennett Abladian and Goltz to open a 14-9 lead.
The Hawks would get one back before Weingarten and O’Rourke closed the scoring with empty-net goals.
Saint Joseph’s outshot Bryant, 49-47.
Bryant won the ground-ball battle, 45-31.
The Bulldogs won 17-of-30 faceoffs.
Bryant was 21-of-24 on clears.
Bryant held Saint Joseph’s scoreless for a 13:30 stretch from the third quarter to the fourth quarter.
Alexander won 17-of-30 faceoffs and finished with 12 ground balls, a goal and two assists.
Caracciolo made 18 saves.
O’Rourke led the Bulldogs with four goals and an assist.
McGovern (1g, 2a) and Weingarten (3g) each finished with three points.
Groeninger (2g), Goltz (2g) and Hackett (1g, 1a) all finished with two points.
Ryan Baker and Jake Fiske combined for 6 ground balls and three caused turnovers.
Bryant is now 6-0 all-time in NEC Championship games.
The Bulldogs have now won NEC titles in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2021.
The Bulldogs are now 12-3 all-time in the NEC Tournament.
Caracciolo made 35 saves in two NEC Tournament games to earn MVP honors.
O’Rourke, Alexander and Weingarten were named to the NEC All-Tournament team.
O’Rourke has now scored 20 goals in his four games this season.
Weingarten recorded his second hat trick of the year and now has 92 career points.
Caracciolo matched his career-high with 18 saves.
Alexander’s 17 faceoff wins are the second highest this season and his three points are a career high.
The Bulldogs will learn their NCAA Tournament opponent on Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. during the NCAA Selection Show on ESPNU.