The recent history of the Pilgrim League has been a monochromatic shade of maroon for the past five years and with one more win on Saturday, that number will climb to six. Springfield College’s men’s lacrosse team can lock up the Pilgrim League regular season title and home-field advantage for the conference tournament with a win over fellow conference unbeaten, Babson.
The Pride carry a perfect 5-0 league record into their season finale along with a battle-tested attitude that was earned through the toughest non-conference schedule in the country. At 7-7 overall, all seven losses have come to teams either ranked in the top 20 or headed to the NCAA Tournament.
“Homefield is huge, I don’t ever want to have to play at someone else’s place,” Springfield head coach Keith Bugbee said. “Like us they probably play better at home. Home cookin’ is good.”
Babson boasts eight seniors, a decided advantage over Springfield’s three, and a slew of talented underclassmen that will test the Pride as they look to keep the tournament, and the league title, on Alden Street. Senior attackman Alex Patinkin leads the Beavers with 27 goals and 32 assists on the season while senior defensemen John Clausing and Ben Jette hold down the other end of the field with 13 caused turnovers apiece this season.
But where Babson’s biggest strength lies is with junior long-stick midfield Ryan Dawidjan. A defense-first player, Dawidjan has caused a team-high 28 turnovers while also scoring four goals and picking up 83 ground balls.
“He’s definitely a kid we respect a lot,” Bugbee said. “We don’t often times take on poles directly, especially with the schedule we play. Teams at this level we play at, their poles are pretty good. They do a lot of double stuff with him so he’s very active. We have to remind our guys that he’s one of the best guys out there.”
The Pride graduated all three of their starting defensemen from last year’s squad, leaving junior Matt Giannelli, freshman Connor Samuelson and sophomore Frankie Verde to take up the reins. Where they struggled to adjust early in the season, the unit has been gelling of late and the results have borne themselves out in the final scores.
Coupled with junior goalkeeper Rob Maher, the Pride have allowed just 28 goals in their five Pilgrim League contests, good for a 5.6 goals against average.
“I’ve really been proud of these guys. Some of our juniors have really stepped up — some freshmen have stepped up — so I’m really proud of where we’re at right now,” Bugbee said. “We weren’t making huge mistakes early on but we were making more of them. We’ve cut some of those out and we’re much more of a complete team now.”
One other freshman who has stepped up is Brendan Boss. The West Springfield native stepped in for Dylan Sheehan after the sophomore attackman went down with a knee injury and has scored 12 goals with five assists during that time.
Boss scored 440 points in his career at West Springfield, making him one of the most profilic scorers in high school history despite not having much around him. With a more complete team here at Springfield, the sky seems to be the limit.
“He’s a very talented player he just wasn’t used to having teammates around him,” Bugbee said. “He’s a really good player it was just a matter of how quickly he could get into our system. I think in just the last two weeks he’s developed a lot.”
The opening faceoff for the Pilgrim League title will take place at 1:00 p.m. Saturday on Stagg Field at Springfield College.
Players to Watch
- Ryon Lynch, Jr., No. 40 – 30 goals, 34 assists (64 points)
- Ryan Murphy, Jr., No. 1 – 28 goals, 16 assists (44 points)
- Bryce Serriello, So., No. 44 – 24 goals, 5 assists (29 points)
- Rob Maher, Jr., No. 24 – 9.95 GAA, 54.7% Save Percentage
- Alex Patinkin, Sr., No. 13 – 27 goals, 32 assists (59 points)
- Ryan Dawidjan, Jr., No. 7 – 4 goals, 5 assists (9 points), 28 caused turnovers, 83 ground balls
- Phil Russo, So., No. 18 – 14 points, 3 assists (17 points), 70.6 percent FO%