19th-ranked Bulldogs host reigning conference champion Mount St. Mary's Saturday at 1 p.m.
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – In a week that has already seen the No. 19/20 Bryant University men's lacrosse team earn its first Division I national ranking, win its second-consecutive Ocean State Cup and defeat intrastate rival Brown on the road, the Bulldogs will look for one more high on the week as they host reigning Northeast Conference champion Mount St. Mary's Saturday, looking for revenge on the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a season ago.
The Bulldogs (8-2, 1-0 NEC) and The Mount (3-5, 0-1) split the 2011 season series, but the regular-season champs and tournament hosts got the last W, topping Bryant, 14-9, in last year's conference semifinal. This season, though, Bryant will host the Mountaineers at home -- where the team is a perfect 5-0 so far in 2012 -- and will do so riding the wave of a seven-game win streak dating back to the beginning of March.
Mount St. Mary's enters Saturday's game seeking its first conference win of the year after falling to Quinnipiac, 12-8, in its NEC debut at home last Saturday, but The Mount has already beaten a ranked opponent this season in a 12-10 topping of then-No. 16 Delaware in the season opener back on Feb. 25. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will look to stay undefeated in league action after an 11-8 win over Sacred Heart at home last weekend, a game paced by sophomore Colin Dunster's (Cos Cob, Conn.) fourth-quarter hat trick.
Dunster will lead an offensive unit that has gotten goals from multiple sources over the recent weeks, including a four-point, three-goal night from the second midfield unit Tuesday at Brown. Dunster's 22 goals and 28 points pace the home side, while junior captain Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) adds in 13 goals and a team-high 12 assists for 25 points. The Bulldogs sport six players with double-digit points on the year, including junior defenseman Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.), who has nine goals and five helpers this season and poses one of the team's top offensive threat with the longpole.
Mount St. Mary's, the preseason conference favorite, is led by 18-goal scorer Brett Schmidt, who totals 24 points in 2012. Andrew Scalley is right on his heels with 23 points off 11 goals and a team-best 12 helpers, while two other Mountaineers in Bryant Schmidt and Daniel Stranix boast double-figure scores with 16 and 10, respectively.
Faceoff specialist Jon Marsalese (83-of-157, team-high 40 GB) takes center stage for The Mount on the restart, but will meet a new face at the X Saturday in rookie sensation Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.). Coming off his fifth overall and third-straight NEC Rookie of the Week selection, Massa has been more than impressive for the Black and Gold, winning 64.4 percent of his faceoffs on the year (139-of-216) while leading the league with 84 ground balls and chipping in goals in each of his last two outings.
On defense, The Mount features a new talent between the pipes with the graduation of 2011 NEC Defensive Player of the Year T.C. DiBartolo, as sophomore Chris Klaiber has seen over 450 minutes in goal as this season's starter. Klaiber has 75 stops and a .493 save percentage on the season and sports a 9.93 goals against average entering Saturday's contest.
Opposite him, Bulldog senior netminder Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) has been solid in goal again as a four-year starter, his year highlighted so far by a 7.97 goals against average an impressive .620 save percentage with 132 saves on the season and over 350 shots faced. Love has also scooped up 38 ground balls and forced 11 caused turnovers in 10 starts.
Junior defenseman Glenn Maiorano (Easton, Conn.) leads the Bulldogs in the caused turnovers column, forcing 18 on the year, while linemate Matt MacGrotty (New Westminster, B.C.) is close behind with 16.
Saturday's game will be aired on Cox Sports and Cox Sports HD April 11 and 12 (7 p.m.) and April 14 (12 p.m.) throughout Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. Can't make it to the game? Watch it LIVE on the Bulldog Sports Network at www.bryantbulldogs.tv.