FRIDAY, APRIL 01, 2011
Men’s lacrosse puts MAAC unbeaten streak on the line against Manhattan on Saturday
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A first-place spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings will be on the line when the JU men’s lacrosse team travels to New York City to face Manhattan at Gaelic Park on Saturday at 1 p.m.

JU (4-5, 2-0) and Manhattan (2-8, 1-0) entered the week as two of the three total teams that have not yet lost a MAAC game, joining reigning champion Siena. The Dolphins carry a two-game winning streak in league play into the Bronx after posting a road victory at Canisius and a come-from-behind home win versus Detroit.

JU’s offense comes in strong, having scored in doubles figures in the last two games after not reaching the mark in the previous three contests. The Dolphins are averaging 10.89 goals per game overall while the Jaspers enter averaging 7.60 goals per game.

“We have to shoot better and try to improve in all areas to try and continue to win these league games,” JU head coach Matt Kerwick said. “Our goal is to the win the league outright and you have to continue to improve week to week. Everyone’s going to be prepared for us so we need to be able to go out and get ground balls and finish on our chances.”

Sophomore TJ Kenary has been the attack unit’s catalyst, tallying a team-leading 15 goals and five multi-goal games. Kenary has six goals in his last two games, including a pair of scoring strikes to spark the comeback victory over the Titans last weekend.

The Dolphins average 41.2 shots per game and that aggressive nature has been embodied by senior Bobby Stockton. The veteran midfielder already has a pair of four-goal games to his credit and netted 14 goals on 54 shots through the first nine games. Fellow midfielders Cameron Mann and Donovan Lange also continue to generate opportunities. Mann has 13 goals and a JU-best 22 points while Lange (nine goals) needs just more score to become the fourth Dolphin to crack the double-digit goal mark.

Defensemen Jake Ziegler and Tanner Gard are JU’s only position players to start every game this season. The Dolphins continued its strong showing its own end, holding Detroit scoreless in the fourth quarter in limiting an opponent to eight goals or fewer for a third straight contest.

Ziegler’s 27 ground balls is second-most on the team and his 10 caused turnovers is tops. Tanner has caused eight turnovers. The duo will look to help the defense contain Manhattan’s attack led by the Jaspers two double-figure scorers in Justin Jensen (14) and Brian McGrath (10).

“They have a veteran group on the offensive side,” Kerwick said. “Their attack tends to dodge a little more than most teams we’ll see, so our defensemen have to have a good day and go a solid job of defending from behind the goal.”

Manhattan started the season slowly but is getting hot at the right time. The Jaspers won the MAAC opener, defeating VMI for their second win in the past three games after losing the opening seven contests.

Both JU and Manhattan will look to revive its struggling man-up units. The Jaspers are just 8-for-39 on man-up opportunities for a .205 conversion percentage while the Dolphins are 7-for-35 (.200).

Saturday’s game will mark the first all-time meeting between the schools. JU is 2-3 in road games this season.

- By Brian Bohl