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Senior co-captain Scott Sullivan and the Lakers will look to upset the Bears Saturday.
Senior co-captain Scott Sullivan and the Lakers will look to upset the Bears Saturday.
Lakers Clash with Conference Leader NYIT Saturday

April 24, 2008

Erie, Pa. - When Mercyhurst and New York Institute of Technology meet in men's lacrosse, the game usually carries a lot of weight. Nothing has changed in 2008. With a conference championship and a possible NCAA Division II playoff berth on the line Saturday, No. 7 Mercyhurst and No. 2 NYIT will once again be playing one of the biggest games in Division II all season.

A year ago, Mercyhurst defeated NYIT twice, once to win the East Coast Conference Championship and once to advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship game. But both of those games took place at Mercyhurst's Tullio Field, a place where the Lakers are 44-4 over the past eight years. This one will be played at NYIT's President's Stadium.

After a slow start to the season, Mercyhurst is riding a six-game winning streak and is 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the ECC. During that stretch, the Lakers have beaten No. 4 C.W. Post and a Notre Dame de Namur team that was unranked but 9-1 at the time of the contest. NYIT enters the contest at 10-0 and is the only unbeaten conference team remaining with a 4-0 mark in the ECC.

When Mercyhurst and NYIT last set foot on the same field, the teams played in the NCAA Division II semifinals in Erie. The Lakers pulled out a 13-10 victory behind 10 goals from then-seniors Adam Mulherin, Scott Janssen, Simon Stocks and Bryon Lindner. Mike Thon is the only player on the current team to have scored a goal in that contest, tallying two scores.

Thon, a junior, leads Mercyhurst in scoring this year with 20 goals and five assists. Junior Mike Bartlett is doing his part as well by picking up 15 goals and eight assists. Sixteen different Lakers have tallied points this season. Jason LaShomb, who was named Nike/Division II Player of the Week two weeks ago, is guiding one of the most stout defensive units in the country, posting a 6.18 goals against average. Matt Spahr, a recent ECC Player of the Week, has consistently shut down the opponents' top scoring threat throughout the season and leads the Lakers with 12 caused turnovers and 28 ground balls.

For NYIT, Keith Henderson is bulldozing through defenses with 51 goals and six assists. Matt Messina adds 14 goals and 21 assists, while Austin Carino has 22 goals and two assists. As a team, the Bears rank second in the country in scoring offense and fourth in scoring margin.

Game time is set for 1 p.m. at President's Stadium.


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