Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/26/18
From Press Release
Saint Joseph’s eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray has announced the Hawks’ 14-game schedule for the 2019 men’s lacrosse season. Including their two exhibition games, the Hawks will compete against members of the Patriot League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Colonial Athletic Association, Big East Conference, and Ivy League as well as the independent NJIT Highlanders before entering into Northeast Conference action on March 23.
“We start our 2019 schedule a week earlier than usual, which I know is exciting for our players, but also means we are going to need to be incredibly efficient with our preseason preparation,” said Wray. “We have a youthful team, with many new faces at both ends of the field.”
The Hawks will play a pair of exhibition games against Patriot League opponents to prepare for the regular season, at home vs. Lehigh (Jan. 26) and on the road at Army (Feb. 2).
“The two preseason scrimmages against Lehigh and Army will be a great to challenge for our team and will help us gain some valuable game experience,” added Wray. “With the implementation of the 80-second shot clock this year, I’m also happy to have two scrimmages to help us learn the nuances of the how the clock will impact all facets of the game.”
The Hawks’ 14-game, regular-season schedule features seven home contests to be played on Sweeney Field, including the season opener against St. Bonaventure on Saturday, February 9. St. Joe’s will host four of eight total non-conference games and three of six NEC games. The non-conference portion of the schedule will run from February 9 through March 16, while regular-season NEC action is set for March 23 through April 27.
Saint Joseph’s will open the season at home against first-year program St. Bonaventure on Saturday, February 9 at noon.
“We are thrilled to open the season against the newest Atlantic 10 lacrosse program,” said Wray. “While St. Bonaventure competes in the MAAC, I think it’s important for us to play opponents and build rivalries that exist throughout our athletic department, and we are excited to begin our season against the Bonnies. This game also has special meaning to me as we will be competing against a team coached by Randy Mearns, someone I have known since I played for him with Team Canada back in 2006 and have had the privilege of coaching alongside with Team Canada since 2010. I know he will have his team more than prepared to embark on their inaugural campaign.”
The Hawks will then hit the road to play Fairfield the following Saturday (Feb. 16). The meeting will mark the second between the two programs since May 14, 1999, when the Hawks and Stags met in the ECAC Tournament. Fairfield and Saint Joseph’s met eight times between 1993-99, with SJU’s last win coming in the form of a 13-10 regular-season victory at Fairfield on March 26, 1999.
Saint Joseph’s will return home to host Providence the following Saturday (Feb. 23); in just his second collegiate appearance, goalkeeper Mike Adler stood on his head to make 16 saves in SJU’s 4-3 road loss last year. Prior to that meeting, the Hawks had last faced the Friars in 2009, a quadruple overtime game played in Providence, R.I.
Just three days later, Saint Joseph’s will take on Delaware on the road (Feb. 26). The meeting will mark the 19th between the two programs, with the Blue Hens owning a 14-3 all-time series edge. However, the Hawks are 3-3 since Wray took the helm.
“I’m particularly excited to have Delaware back on the schedule,” said Wray. “Battling the Blue Hens, who are just 45 minutes from campus, has provided some really intense and exciting games over the years, and we are looking forward having them back on the schedule.”
SJU will return home to host Monmouth that Saturday (Mar. 2). The Hawks own a 5-0 series record over the Hawks from West Long Branch, N.J., playing them for five years in a row leading up to this spring, and took home an 11-5 road win last year.
The Hawks will then take part in the Philadelphia Lacrosse Challenge, a four-team tournament featuring the city’s Division I programs: Saint Joseph’s, Drexel, Penn, and Villanova. SJU will face a pair of local opponents at neutral-site locations: Drexel at Villanova (Mar. 8) and Penn at Drexel (Mar. 10).
“We have been trying for years to create a doubleheader weekend with the four Philadelphia Division I lacrosse programs,” said Wray. “It took some time to coordinate our schedules, but we’ve finally done it and I hope the Philadelphia lacrosse community will come support the event in a big-time way. It’s not often you get the chance to watch back-to-back D-I lacrosse games at a single venue, and to be able to do it twice in one weekend is really cool. From a strategic standpoint, it also helps our teams get a feel for what it might be like to play two games in 72 hours, the same way you would if you were playing in your conference tournament. It’s going to be an incredibly challenging weekend and one we hope will continue to put us in a position to compete well in conference play.”
The Hawks and Dragons have played each other every year since the start of the SJU men’s lacrosse program in 1993 and came away with just its second win in program history and first since 2000 at home last year while this spring will mark the ninth consecutive season in which the Hawks and Quakers will meet on the lacrosse field; the Hawks have won two of those last three meetings, both away from Hawk Hill.
SJU will close out its the non-conference portion of the schedule at home against NJIT. In the inaugural meeting between the two programs last spring, the Hawks earned a 14-5 home victory. Of note, NJIT will soon be a conference opponent as the Highlanders are set to join the NEC in 2020.
Of Saint Joseph’s eight non-conference opponents, the Hawks faced six last season in Fairfield, Providence, Monmouth, Drexel, Penn, and NJIT, with wins coming over Monmouth, Drexel, Penn, and NJIT in the midst of the program’s record-breaking, 11-game win streak.
“I really like our non-league schedule,” beamed Wray. “I like how we have been able to build some terrific rivalries with some of our regional opponents.”
Saint Joseph’s will open its 2019 NEC slate on the road at Bryant (Mar. 23).
The Hawks will return home for back-to-back weekends to host 2018 NCAA Tournament participant and 2018 NEC Tournament champion Robert Morris (Mar. 30) and Hobart (Apr. 6), the latter serving as Alumni and Family Day, before facing Sacred Heart on the road (Apr. 13).
Saint Joseph’s will host Wagner (Apr. 20) for Senior Day before closing the regular season on the road at Mount St. Mary’s (Apr. 27).
SJU went 6-0 against the same conference opponents in the 2018 NEC regular season and is currently 25-5 all-time in NEC regular-season games (five seasons) entering the 2019 campaign.
The 2019 Northeast Conference Championship will be held on Thursday, May 2 and Saturday, May 4. The top four teams from the regular season qualify for the playoffs, with the highest seed earning the right to host the tournament. The Hawks hosted the NEC postseason tournament on Sweeney Field from 2014-16 and again in 2018 and reached the title game in 2015, 2016, and 2018.
“As is always the case, we will need to take care of business in our own league if we hope to have the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” said Wray. “The NEC has really improved overall over these last few seasons, and I believe this will be the most challenging year yet. We are going to have our work cut out for us, and I know my team will be excited for the challenge.”
Saint Joseph’s is expected to return 20 Hawks from a season ago, including four starters, and a group of talented newcomers for the 2019 campaign.
“We certainly challenged our team this fall,” concluded Wray. “We made significant progress, but we will need to do the same and more over the next few months in order to be ready for the season. As I told the team, our success this spring we will be a direct reflection of our growth this fall and winter. As a program we need to be consumed by the process of improvement.”
St. Joseph’s 2019 schedule
Sat, Jan 26 // 1:00 PM ET
Lehigh vs. Lehigh
Sat, Feb 2 // 12:00 PM ET
Army at Army
West Point, N.Y.
Sat, Feb 9 // 12:00 PM ET
vs. St. Bonaventure
Sat, Feb 16 // 1:00 PM ET
Sat, Feb 23 // 1:00 PM ET
Tue, Feb 26 // 2:00 PM ET
Sat, Mar 2 // 3:00 PM ET
Philadelphia Lacrosse Challenge
Fri, Mar 8 // 4:00 PM ET
vs. Drexel (at Villanova)
Sun, Mar 10 // TBA PM ET
vs. Penn (at Drexel)
Sat, Mar 16 // 3:00 PM ET
vs. New Jersey Inst Tech
Sat, Mar 23 // 12:00 PM ET
Sat, Mar 30 // 1:00 PM ET
vs. Robert Morris
Sat, Apr 6 // 1:00 PM ET
Alumni and Family Day
Sat, Apr 13 // 1:00 PM ET
Sacred Heart at Sacred Heart
Sat, Apr 20 // 1:00 PM ET
Sat, Apr 27 // 1:00 PM ET
at Mount St. Mary’s – MD
Northeast Conference Championship (Hosted by Top Seed)
Thu, May 2 // TBA
Sat, May 4 // TBA