It’s a new era for Division 2 men’s lacrosse in New England.
Gone is mighty Merrimack. The Warriors made the last three national title games, winning the final two, and are now in Division 1 as a member of the Northeast Conference.
With the Warriors gone, it opens the door for some of the other programs in New England to step up and leave their mark on the region.
These three Northeast-10 programs look to be the teams to beat in New England in 2020.
Saint Anselm | 2019 record: 7-7
The Hawks took a step back in 2019 after an 11-5 2018 season that saw them make a run all the way to the Northeast-10 championship game. However, Saint A’s has the talent to make another deep run and already started its 2020 campaign with a decisive 16-7 win over nationally-ranked NYIT.
The Hawks will be led offensively by junior Matt Ward (Shrewsbury, Mass.). Ward had 32 goals as a
freshman, 28 last year, and had a hat trick in the win over NYIT. Junior middie Sean Tomaszewski (Arlington, Mass.) will also need to have a big year for the Hawks after a 23-goal season as a sophomore.
The Hawks found success last year when they were able to push the pace of play. Saint Anselm was 7-2 when it scored more than 12 goals in a game last year and 0-5 when held under a dozen.
A big part of Saint Anselm finding success pushing the ball will come down to how Thomas Mapstone (Andover, Mass.) continues to grow as an LSM. Last season as a sophomore, Mapstone had 44 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers.
In the NYIT game, Mapstone had four ground balls and a pair of goals. If he can find a consistent shot in transition it will give this Saint Anselm team an added dynamic once it gets into the grind of Northeast-10 play.
Games to Watch: vs LeMoyne (3/14), vs Bentley (3/28), @ Assumption (4/21)
Bentley | 2019 record: 9-5
Bentley, along with Saint Anselm, were the two New England programs to earn a ranking in the most recent D2 national poll. The Falcons had a blazing hot start last year, winning eight of their first 10 games, but faded down the stretch and lost in the first round of the NE-10 tournament to Pace.
The Falcons return three of their top-five scorers from season, led by Matt Brooks (Brunswick, Maine). His 22 goals last year was the second-highest on the team. Brooks will be aided on offense by junior attack Kristopher Campbell (Longmeadow, Mass.). Campbell had 17 goals, 11 assists, and 20 ground balls last season for the Falcons. Junior attack Joey Tesoriero had 15 goals in 2019.
The Falcons have a talented pair of long-stick midfielders in Matt Dold (Medfield, Mass.) and Matthew Mulcahy (South Windsor, Conn.). The duo combined for 46 ground balls and 13 turnovers. Along with junior defender Matt Colstad (Hampton Falls, N.H.), who had 26 GBs and 12 caused turnovers in 2019, look to form a stout defensive unit.
Anchoring it all with be senior goalie Michael Haggan (Braintree, Mass.). Haggan was a workhorse last season, starting all 13 games and finishing with a 10.44 goals against average.
Games to Watch: vs LeMoyne (2/29), vs Assumption (3/24), vs Pace (4/11)
Assumption | 2019 record: 8-7
In 2016 Assumption won just three games. Every year since, the Greyhounds have racked up more and more wins and won eight last year, including a road win at nationally-ranked Tampa.
The Greyhounds did graduate 40-goal scorer in Travis Reid (Raynham, Mass.) but return two-thirds of their scoring from a team that averaged just under 14 goals a game.
Look for seniors Owen Peterson III and Brett Jennings to lead the attack. Peterson had 28 goals
last year while Jennings scored 26 times himself. The Greyhounds look to have a deep attack as Peterson and Jennings lead of group of seven returners that scored at least 10 goals in 2019.
The Greyhounds were hit hard by graduation on the defensive end, especially in goal. Colby Hamwey (West Yarmouth, Mass.) started every game last season in net for Assumption. The leading returning goalie in terms of minutes from last season is junior Will Wiegand (Jefferson, Mass.) but he only played 29 minutes in 2019.
Senior longpole Tim Tierney (Framingham, Mass.) led the team last year with 41 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers and will be relied on to provide veteran leadership in the back six for the Greyhounds this year.