NORTHFIELD — The Norwich men’s lacrosse team will carry a seven-game winning streak in Saturday’s Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship at Lasell.
The No. 2 Cadets advanced to the title game for the second year in a row, earning a date with the No. 1 Lasers. Senior midfielder Cody Moore has been the focal point of Norwich’s offense, leading the team with 43 goals and 57 points this year. His 13 man-up goals rank second in NCAA Division III. He will end his career in the top-10 in Norwich history in goals, assists and points. He already owns the fourth best single-season points total in Norwich history with 58 last year.
Another point of strength for the Cadets is in the face-off circle, where the NU unit boasts a winning percentage of 63 to lead the conference. The effort is spearheaded by senior Joseph Santangelo, who boasts has won 196 of 279 face-offs this year (70 percent). Santangelo’s success rate is the fifth best single-season mark in program history and the 12th best in D-III. He has won 117 ground balls on the season to lead the conference, and he shattered the single-season program record of 99 ground balls set in 2013 by Nate Fortezzo.
Norwich’s defensive unit is ranked 19th in the country in scoring defense after allowing an average of eight goals per game. Led by senior team captain Jake Giannelli, classmate Jacob Center, and sophomores Sean Wallace and Jake Trainor, the Cadets average 8.94 caused turnovers per game.
A trio of goalies has placed Norwich at or near the top in every statistical category. Ian Kriger, Nick Kandra, and Brandon Milburn have combined to stop 60 percent of shots fired on target, establishing the top mark in the conference. They have allowed 188 goals, the second-lowest total in the GNAC. All three took home GNAC Goalie of the Week at different points during the season.
The focus of Lasell’s offense is senior midfielder Ryan Madden. He ranks second in the GNAC in goals (47) and points (68). He has recorded seven goals and three assists during the playoffs.
Freshman James Anderson is another tops scoring option in a lineup that features five players with 20-plus goals on the season. Anderson has 35 goals and 13. Right behind him is senior Mike Susi, who has 28 goals and 18 assists.
Lasers face-off specialist Ben Werner is one of the few players this year to get the best of the Cadets. He went 15 of 19 against NU in the regular season and has gone 165 of 257 overall (64 percent).
Lasell ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense with a 6.41 goals-against average. Freshman Alex Beauchemin has come on strong for the Lasers in his first season in goal. He has allowed 6.45 goals per game while stopping 54 percent of shots on frame.
Both teams have cashed in on 30 perfect of their scoring attempts, and a big key for Norwich will be firing enough shots on target. During the teams’ regular season matchup, Norwich was outshot 58-20.
Lasell enjoys a 17-5 all-time record against the Cadets, earning a 11-5 victory this year. Kandra made 27 saves in the losing effort. Ryan Madden had four goals for the Lasers, while five players notched a single goal for Norwich. Norwich defeated Lasell 14-11 in last year’s regular season. Prior to that Norwich had not defeated Lasell since 2013.
Norwich coach Neal Anderson is in his 11th season at the helm of the program. He is the three-time GNAC Coach of the Year and he notched his 100th career win against Emmanuel earlier this season. During his 11 seasons Norwich has produced 31 All-Conference recipients and 31 All-Academic selections while posting a 58-19 record against conference opponents. In the last four seasons Anderson and his team have posted a 26-7 record against GNAC foes.
Lasell coach Bill Mason has posted a 30-3 record within the GNAC during his four years with the team. He claimed the GNAC Championship and Coach of the Year award during the 2017 season. Lasell earned the top seed in this year’s tournament by going 8-0 within the conference. The Lasers are 16-1 overall and are riding a 15-game winning streak. They suffered their only loss during a 9-5 defeat at the hands of Roger Williams.
The Cadets and Lasers have met four times in playoff history, clashing all four times in the semifinal round. Lasell defeated Norwich in 2011, 2016, and 2017. Norwich earned a 5-4 victory in 2012.