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NAIA Lacrosse Recap and Weekend Preview

We’ve had a few weeks of NAIA lacrosse already, however most of it has been scrimmages and games that didn’t feel all that close. This past week made it feel like the real start of the season, and for some teams, it was their first action of the year. This weekend was filled with so much action, it spilled out onto Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, we got two early front-runners for games of the year! 

One of the biggest storylines was the level of play of goalies in the NAIA. With how all of the Keepers have looked so far, there’s going to be some big names left off All-American and All-Conference lists at the end of the season.

NAIA Weekly Recap

Author: Josh Howell

Thursday 2/17:

 #7 St. Ambrose (12) Vs. #2 Indiana Tech (7)

Last week, I mentioned how to take the next step, St. Ambrose needed to win tight games against top-tier opponents, and they did just that with their first opportunity.

Indiana Tech, last year’s national runner-up, came into 2022 poised be an NAIA Lacrosse National Championship contender again. Those hopes may have been shut down early on by the Fighting Bees. Thanks in large part to the team’s defense and individual play of goalie Nolan Hayes, who had 19 saves on 37 shots.

Offensively, St. Ambrose was led by a pair of juniors, Michael Shakerin and Cole Danner, who had 6 and 5 points respectively. The Warriors need to shake off this performance and regroup as 3 out of their next 4 games are also against top 10 opponents. 

Webber International (8) Vs. Aquinas (9)

After a couple early season contests in which they dominated, Webber looked as though they were ready to start competing with the big guns of NAIA lacrosse.

On Thursday, they squared off with Aquinas, another team looking to make a push for the top 10. This game was as tight as they come, with neither team being able to take more than a 1 goal lead. This game was tied at half, end of regulation, and after one overtime.

In the second overtime, a costly slashing penalty by the Warriors put Aquinas on a man-up advantage. The Saints seized the opportunity as Jon Jardis fed Joey Fitzgerald for the winning goal to end the game. Chase Jackson and Alex Kew did their best to help lead Webber to victory but fell short. Attackmen Zach Sweet and Mitch Haggart combined scored 6 of Aquinas’ 9 goals, leading the charge for the Saints.

The real difference-maker in this game however, was the play of Aquinas’ Senior goalie, Clayton Boerigter, who had 21 saves on a 72% save percentage. 

Friday 2/18:

#7 St. Ambrose (15) Vs. Taylor (5)

A day after upsetting No.2 Indiana Tech, St. Ambrose faced another tough WHAC opponent in a feisty Taylor squad. This game could not have been a better spot for a trap game and through the most of the first three quarters, it looked like it could be exactly that. The Bees jumped out to an early lead but Taylor kept it close and a rally had them within 2 in the middle of the third. From that point on, the depth kicked in and St. Ambrose rode a 8-0 run to finish the game. 

#3 Keiser (21) vs. Point (2) 

In our first look at Keiser in 2022, we expected to see a dominant squad come out hot and they did exactly that. After an early Point goal from Jeremiah Menzies made it a 1-1 game, Keiser would go on a 14-0 run. That spanned into the third quarter before Point would get one more. Keiser would close the game out on another strong run. Cole Stassi led the way with 5 goals for the Seahawks. Keiser remains to be one of the most consistent teams in NAIA lacrosse.

#10 William Penn (23) vs. Cleary (2)

Without a Head Coach to lead the way and Covid affecting already low roster numbers, Cleary canceled their 2021 season. CJ Lowery was tasked to lead the Cougars in 2022. The rebuild is off to a slow start as a hot William Penn squad came into town and crushed their opponent.

Attackman Boston Romero either scored or assisted each of the first 7 goals for the Statesmen. The rest of the team would take over from there, eventually leading William Penn to 23 goals. Joey VanGoethem was the lone goal scorer for Cleary with 2. 

Siena Heights (7) vs. Webber (14)

The day after their double overtime loss, Webber found themselves in a rough spot with another tough opponent. In Siena’s first game of the 2022 NAIA lacrosse season, they started slow. It was all Warriors early as they lead 5-0 in the first few minutes. Webber carried that momentum to a 10-4 halftime lead.

The scoring would slow down a little in the second half and the Saints were never really able to make it close. The Warrior defense leaned on strong performances from Jordan Elam and Harold Pallone III shutting down a strong Siena attack line. 

Saturday 2/19

#10 William Penn (7) vs. Michigan Dearborn (5)

After nearly 10 minutes of scoreless action in the first quarter, Tim Pennington broke the seal for WP. Marcus Glass would add another in the second for a 2-0 lead. Back to back goals from the Wolverines’ Nolan Kelley had the teams tied in the middle of the second quarter. William Penn would add 2 more before the half was over.

It remained close through the rest of the contest. Two goals in the final minute from each team would make the final score 7-5. When the next iteration of the NAIA Top 10 rankings come out, the Statesmen will have Senior Goalie Jeremy Smith to thank if they remain in the top 10. Smith’s 18 saves were the difference in a 2 goal game.

#3 Keiser (14) Vs. Shorter (6) 

Keiser followed up their dominant win against Point with another strong effort against Shorter. The Seahawks struggled early to get the offense moving, but Freshman Attack Vincent Cerasuolo eventually got it going as a one man show. He would pour in 7 Goals and 1 Assist to lead the team. Sophomore FO Cam Provines prevented Shorter from catching any momentum by going 19-21 on face-offs. 

Sunday 2/20

#4 Cumberlands (9) vs. Webber (5)

Cumberlands year in and year out are one of the best NAIA lacrosse programs in the country. That is going to continue to be the case in 2022 thanks in large part to having arguably two of the best players in NAIA, Jake Morgan and Dylan Crouch.

Jake Morgan moved down to close defense from LSM, but it doesn’t matter where you play him, he’s going to be the best player on that half of the field. In addition to holding Alex Kew to just one goal, he added 3 caused turnovers and scooped up 9 groundballs. On the other half of the field at Attack, Dylan Crouch dominated with 3 goals on 6 shots. Crouch was helped out by Middie Dawson Coltran who added a hat trick as well. 

St. Andrews (11) Vs. SCAD (9)

In an early season AAC matchup we came close to seeing a stunning upset. After the first quarter, SCAD led 4-1 thanks to goals from Evan Baker (2), Jordan Reeves, and Jack Coulombe.

After SCAD extended the lead to 6-2 most of the way through the 2nd quarter, St. Andrews began their comeback. Ross Patrick’s 2nd goal of the game would spark a 7-0 run for the Knights that extended into the third quarter, flipping the script. However, the Bees would add 2 goals to make it a 1 goal game going into the final 15 minutes. Wesley would set up and assist the final two goals for the Knights that ended up being the difference maker. SCAD added one more goal late, but it wasn’t enough. 

#6 Concordia Ann Arbor (9) Vs. Kalamazoo College (6) 

Concordia aimed to be the second straight WHAC team to defeat a feisty Kalamazoo squad in as many weeks. After a strong 2021 campaign, some expected the Cardinals to come into this game and score a lot of goals against the Hornets. There’s a big reason why they didn’t.

Last year’s WHAC Freshman of the Year Hunter McCarty didn’t play and sources confirmed he will likely miss extended time this season. With McCarty out, other players need to step up for the Cardinals if they want to have similar success to last year. It will be interesting to see if CUAA can get over the hump this NAIA lacrosse season.

Freshman Andrew Simmons did just that, with 4 goals and 1 assist. Midfielders Evan Stuart and Ryan Iles also added 2 a piece. This team will go wherever Goalie Sam Bowling leads them to. In a weekend filled with outstanding goalie performances, Bowling had arguably the best. He saved 75% of the shots he faced and made 18 total saves.

3# Keiser (9) V. Sewanee (10)

This was by far one of the more surprising results to come out of the weekend. Sewanee, a team that has had some success in NCAA D3, only played in 3 games last year, winning only 1. Keiser came in hot off two early season NAIA victories but it may have led to tired legs in their third game in 4 days.

We don’t have stats or video from this game so unless you were fortunate to catch this one live, it’s hard to tell exactly why the game ended the way it did. It’s possible both teams used this as a scrimmage and played the entirety of the depth chart to make sure everyone is firing on all cylinders for the rest of the year. 

NAIA Players of The Weekend: 

Offense – Michael Shakerin – St. Ambrose – Jr. – Attack – 3 Goals, 3 Assists 

Defense – Clayton Boerigter – Aquinas – Sr. – Goalie – 22 Saves, 72.4% Save Pct.

NAIA Weekend Preview

Author: Jon Vance

Friday 2/25

#6 Concordia vs. #4 Cumberlands

For the second week in a row the Patriots find themselves hosting an upset minded visitor on a hot streak. CUAA comes into this game fresh off their 9-6 victory over Kalamazoo in what can only be described as a pugnacious affair. Cumberlands is also 1-0 on the year after defeating Webber.

This is a huge game for both teams looking to assert themselves as legitimate title contenders this season. I was able to speak with UC goalie Will Settle this week after his first game back from season ending ACL surgery last season. I asked him how he was feeling finally being healthy and heading into this NAIA lacrosse top 10 showdown.

“Coming back into a playing position has been a long time coming. A lot of scary thoughts after I first was injured, but I knew what I had to do to get back out on the field, and I have done it. Now it’s about being the best teammate and leader I can be for the team. I learned to love the game from a different perspective and never take for granted being able to play. Every day is truly a privilege to play this game, and the best part is I’m surrounded by some of the best players in the country when playing.”

-Will Settle, Cumberlands Goalie

I for one am eager to continue watching his continued success, and am excited to see the match up with him vs McCarty & Blaisdell at attack for Concordia.

Saturday 2/26

Aquinas vs. #5 Columbia

If you like high scoring games this is the game for you. Columbia returns over 100 goals worth of offense primarily through the trio of Tyler Parrott, John Thomas, and Trever Doren. AQ has their own dynamic duo at attack in Zachary Sweet & Mitch Haggart. The pair combined for 6 goals in their season opener versus Webber.

CC is replacing almost the entirety of last year’s starting defense and goalie, so this matchup could be disastrous if the young defenders aren’t ready for the spotlight. Get your popcorn ready.

#7 Indiana Tech vs. #10 Benedictine 

Some of you may have taken a few glances at those ranks to make sure you weren’t seeing things. It is very unusual that we see IT and Benedictine outside of the NAIA lacrosse top 5, yet that’s where we are early in the 2022 season.

This is the NAIA season opener for a Benedictine team that returns a core group of upper class-men who suffered a 20-3 loss to this same opponent almost a year ago today. If things are different this time around, it will likely need to be because senior goalie Duncan Loud plays lights out in cage, and the offensive unit consisting of Guck and Molyneuax get things rolling early. 

From an Indiana Tech perspective I still see them having National championship talent. This is especially evident on offense with Andrew Ryan and company. The two areas we need to see improvement on in this game are goalie play and face-offs. If they can improve in those two areas the sky’s the limit for this team.