By Matt Noonan
Happy Friday, everyone – if you’re in Massachusetts (or some part of New England), hopefully, you’re taking advantage of the gorgeous spring weather today.
While March Madness might be the focus of many, both today and this weekend, I do want to share (and highlight) a few New England NCAA Division III lacrosse games to follow this weekend, beginning with an important conference meeting in Babson Park.
Babson College will host Coast Guard Academy on Saturday with the two teams meeting for the first time since last season’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament final (the Beavers beat the Bears to secure their first-ever conference tournament crown).
The Beavers enter Saturday’s meeting with some momentum from last week’s overtime win against Endicott College – Lee Sipes scored the game-winner while finishing the non-league tilt with two goals and one assist to go with one ground ball.
Prior to their exciting win against the Gulls, Babson won two of three contests, including a season-opening win against Roger Williams University.
Coast Guard Academy has rebounded from an 0-2 start, winning three-straight non-league tilts this month, including an 18-7 victory on Wednesday against Maritime College (N.Y.). Caleb Holdridge, a junior attack from Waterford, Connecticut, highlighted his team’s win over the Privateers with four goals and four assists to go with one ground ball and one caused turnover.
Holdridge has been a player to watch on the Bears this season, tallying 28 points on 11 goals and 17 helpers in five contests.
Babson is 4-2 all-time against Coast Guard with the series between the two programs beginning in 2015. They have won one of two meetings with the Bears at MacDowell Field.
If the Beavers are going to be victorious, they will need to win most of the face-offs and scoop more ground balls. So far this season, the Green and White are 2-0 when they win both categories.
Another NEWMAC game to watch tomorrow features Wheaton College, the team that currently sits atop the league standings with a 7-0 record. The Lyons will visit Springfield College, which has won one of four meetings thus far – they recently lost a heartbreaker to Endicott on Tuesday in overtime.
Saturday’s meeting between the Lyons and Pride will be a good test for coach Kyle Hart’s squad, which has edged its last two opponents by one goal.
While Wheaton has been an exciting story this spring, the same could be said for Emerson College, a team that has won seven of eight contests this season. The Lions will host Eastern Connecticut State tomorrow with a face-off scheduled for 1 p.m.
Finally, don’t overlook MIT – the Engineers have won all five of its early-season contests and will attempt to claim its first league win tomorrow when they welcome Clark University to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ryan Gebhardt has been the player to watch on MIT this spring as the graduate student has scored 30 goals in five contests while tallying 10 assists. He currently leads the conference in goals but is second in points behind Emerson’s Birk Swan, who has produced 43 points on 19 goals and 24 helpers.
A few other men’s lacrosse games to watch this weekend:
Williams College at Bowdoin College on Saturday at 1 p.m.: The Polar Bears have won four-straight contests, including two New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) meetings. They will look to win their fifth game against an Ephs squad that lost to Union College last Thursday.
Wesleyan University at Colby College on Saturday at 1 p.m.: The Cardinals have produced 22 goals or more in all four contests this season. Can they continue their early-season momentum against a Mules squad that is seeking its first conference win? We’ll have to wait and see.
Curry College at Western Connecticut on Sunday at 2 p.m.: The Continentals saw their four-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday against The College of Wooster. Keep an eye on Kai Bruneau, the first-year attack from West Haven, Connecticut, who could help the home team return to the win column on Sunday.