Lacrosse team storms back into nationals

Rarely does a first-year head coach make an immediate impact on his team like Ben Severance did this season with Northeastern men’s club lacrosse team. For the first time in seven years, the Huskies will play in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s national tournament, which starts Monday.

Severance, who was promoted from defensive coordinator before the start of this season, attributes the team’s return to the promise land to a strong senior class and well-balanced play on the field.

“Our senior class is one of the best in the county, and they have put in a ton of hard work,” Severance said. “And we are well represented in all three phases of the game whether it’s midfield, attack, or defense.”

The Huskies finished the regular season 10-2 and took home the regular season and conference titles in the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League. On Monday, No. 13 Northeastern will take on No. 4 Chapman at 7:15 p.m. in the first round of nationals in Irvine, California.

“We’re definitely very excited,” said Chris Tecca, a senior captain who plays attack. “This has been four years in the making. It feels good to get to nationals, but we know our work isn’t done.”

Defense has played a significant role in Northeastern’s success this year. The team has allowed only 66 goals in 12 games and held every opponent to less than 10 goals a game. Junior goaltender Matthew Mohr, a member of the 2014 first team all-conference, had a 5.3 goals against average this season and recorded 132 saves.

“Matt is one of the best goalies in the country,” Severance said. “I came here two years ago and there has just been a wealth of defensive talent at Northeastern.”

On the offensive side of the field, Northeastern is led by sophomore Joey Pasquale’s 18 goals, while Tecca has dished out 23 assists. This year Tecca was named first team all-conference attack and Pasquale received honorable mention.

Severance and his players noted that a turning point for the team this season came on March 28, when the Huskies won a thrilling 10-9 overtime contest against conference rival Boston College at Parsons Field.

The victory came after the team’s first loss of the season. Defender Justin Miller, first team all-conference defense for 2014, said that coming right back and beating BC really boosted the team’s confidence.

“It showed everyone we can play with the top teams in the country,” Miller said. “That was definitely one of the highs of the season.”

BC also made the national tournament, and a rematch of the conference foes is possible in the semifinal round if both teams make it that far.

Right now, though, Northeastern is focused on the present, which is Chapman on Monday. Miller said as long as the Huskies are able to play the controlled style to which they are accustomed, they can beat any team in the tournament.

“We just have to make sure we play our game,” Miller said.

All of the MCLA tournament games can be seen here.