CASTLETON, Vt. – For the sixth straight year, Castleton University will face New England College in the finals of the North Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse Tournament, with this season's edition taking place on Don Melander Field in Henniker, N.H., Saturday, May 6, starting at 1 p.m.
Castleton, the second seed in the tournament after going 6-1 in NAC regular season play, enters the game with a 10-8 overall record after defeating Lyndon State in one semifinal Wednesday night, 17-5. Top seed and NAC regular season champion New England College brings a 12-5 overall record into the title contest after cruising to a 20-2 victory over Husson in Wednesday's other semifinal.
Senior Louis Alhage leads the Spartans with 31 assists to go along with 18 goals for 49 total points, second on the squad behind Sam Siegel, who has a team-high 33 goals and 54 total points. Jason Sedell scored a career-high six goals in the semifinal win over Lyndon State and now has 28 goals so far this season, while Kyle Lutinski has contributed 10 goals and 18 assists despite missing the first five games of the season due to injury.
Joshua Gosselin is 12th in the country in faceoff winning percentage at .695 (258-for-371) as well as 27th in Division III in ground balls per game with 7.83. Peyton Faasse leads Castleton with 20 caused turnovers to go along with 43 ground balls, with Alhage adding 18 caused turnovers and 49 ground balls. Brandon Myron has been stellar in goal for the Spartans this season, posting a 9.46 goals against average and a .497 save percentage with 143 saves.
After starting the season 1-4, New England College has won 11 of its last 12 games, scoring at least 20 goals in each of its last five contests. The Pilgrims are third in the country in assists per game (11.29), sixth in scoring margin (+8.65), 13th in scoring offense (15.88 gpg), and 15th in scoring defense (7.24 gpg).
NAC Player of the Year Matt Richard leads the country in points per game (6.76) and is third in Division III in assists per game (3.65), coming into the game with 53 goals and 62 assists for 115 points. Connor Fries, the NAC Defensive Player of the Year, is fourth in the nation in caused turnovers per game (3.21) and 41st in Division III in ground balls per game (6.71).
Jacob Blanchette was named the NAC Freshman of the Year as he has accumulated 41 goals and 27 assists for 68 total points so far this season. Austin Frankel has seen the most success in the faceoff circle for the Pilgrims, winning 68.0 percent (104-for-153) of the faceoffs he has taken. William Platt has played almost 70 percent of the time in net for NEC, posting a 9.44 goals against average and a .509 save percentage with 116 saves.
Castleton and New England College are meeting for the 18th time overall, with the Pilgrims holding a 10-7 series advantage. On March 29 at Spartan Stadium, Castleton held New England College to one of its lowest goal totals of the year, but the Spartans could not get any offense going, losing to the Pilgrims 10-4. Richard and Sean Largay finished with two goals and one assist apiece for the Pilgrims, while Siegel led Castleton with three goals.
In the last five conference tournament title games, New England College holds a 3-2 advantage, winning in 2012, 2014 (on Castleton's home field), and 2016. The Spartans defeated the Pilgrims in 2013 (17-5) and in 2015 (10-6), but they will be looking for their first title game victory on NEC's home field. Castleton has won a conference title on the road before, defeating Mount Ida in 2010, 11-5, on the Mustangs' home field.
Links to live video and live stats will be available on CastletonSports.com, and live updates will be provided through the Castleton athletics Twitter account (@castletonsports).