CASTLETON, Vt. – In a rematch of the past five North Atlantic Conference Tournament championship games, Castleton University hosts New England College Wednesday, March 29, in men's lacrosse action starting at 4 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans have won three of their last four games, including a sweep of their weekend trip to Maine that featured the conference opener at Maine Maritime. As a team, Castleton has now scored 10.57 goals on 31.6 shots per game, plus they have picked up 34.3 ground balls per game and earned 9.4 caused turnovers per contest.
Thanks to consecutive five-goal games, Sam Siegel leads Castleton with 13 goals and is second on the team with nine assists and 22 total points. Louis Alhage has 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points, while Isaac Devoid has also scored 10 goals so far this season.
Joshua Gosselin leads the team with 47 ground balls and has won 60.7 percent (91-of-150) of faceoffs so far this season. Defensively, Peyton Faasse leads the way with 13 caused turnovers to go along with 24 ground balls, and Brandon Myron has played 400 of 420 minutes in net for the Spartans, posting a 10.78 goals against average and a .514 save percentage with 76 saves, second in the NAC in saves as well as third in goals against average and fifth in save percentage.
New England College is 5-4 overall but currently on a four-game winning streak that includes conference wins over Johnson State (27-0) and Thomas College (22-4). As a team, the Pilgrims are averaging 40.7 shots, 13.44 goals, 29.6 ground balls, and 8.9 caused turnovers per game.
Matt Richard is the leading scorer in the conference with 28 goals and 29 assists for 57 total points, followed by Jacob Blanchette with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points as well as Sean Largay with 21 goals and 10 assists for 31 points. Austin Frankel has assumed some of the faceoff duties, winning 70.2 percent (33-for-47) of his faceoffs over the past four games.
Defensively, Connor Fries leads the Pilgrims with 49 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers. William Platt started the first eight games as the NEC goalie, but William Aufranc was the starting netminder in the team's last match against Thomas, plus he played 30 minutes and earned the victory in the Pilgrims' shutout of Johnson State.
This will be the 17th meeting between Castleton and New England College, with the Pilgrims holding a slight 9-7 series edge. These teams have met in both the regular season and the conference tournament title game in each of the last five seasons, with the winner of the regular season meeting also winning the postseason contest in four of those years.
Last year, New England College swept both meetings, starting with an 11-10 overtime victory in Henniker, N.H., on April 20, 2016. Castleton took a 7-1 lead in the first period, but New England College scored eight straight goals to pull ahead, 9-7. Down 10-8 in the fourth period, Castleton received goals by Tom Pardew and Alhage to tie the game, but Largay scored with two seconds left in the first overtime period to give the Pilgrims the win.
In the rematch May 6, 2016, for the NAC title, also on NEC's home field, the Pilgrims took a 7-1 lead, but the Spartans fought back to pull to within two. The Pilgrims would score four straight goals in the third period and four of five goals in the fourth quarter to pull away with a 17-11 victory.
After Wednesday's home game, Castleton hits the road for two straight, starting Saturday, April 1, at Thomas College starting at 12 noon. The Spartans then face MIT on the road Tuesday, April 4, at 4 p.m. before home games next weekend against Husson (April 8) and SUNY Potsdam (April 9), both starting at 1 p.m.