NCAA Team Reviews: Mercer Bears

Photo credit to Mercer University Athletics.
Photo credit to Mercer University Athletics

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars



2014 Record 7-7
2014 Conference Record 4-1 (1st in Atlantic Sun)
2014 Scoring Offense 9.50 Goals Per Game (40th in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 10.86 Goals Against Per Game (41st in DI)
2014 Goals Leader #27 Zack Ward – Senior (30 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #48 Timmy Geran – Junior (21 As)
2014 Points Leader #91 Chris Baxa – Sophomore (39 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #40 Mike Nugent – Sophomore (.560 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #5 Justin Evans – Junior (.563 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #5 Justin Evans – Junior (104 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leader #28 J.T. Del Tufo – Sophomore (14 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Richmond (11-7), High Point (10-9)
2014 Bad Losses Michigan (20-7), Air Force (19-6)


2015 Record 5-8
2015 Conference Record 5-1 (2nd in SoCon)
2015 Scoring Offense 8.31 Goals Per Game (58th in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 10.85 Goals Against Per Game (45th in DI)
2015 Goals Leader #91 Chris Baxa – Junior (23 Gs)
2015 Assists Leader #9 Chris Rahill – Sophomore (14 As)
2015 Points Leader #9 Chris Rahill – Sophomore (33 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #40 Mike Nugent – Junior (.539 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #5 Justin Evans – Senior (.524 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #5 Justin Evans – Senior (63 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #36 Justin Wood – Senior (14 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins High Point (12-11 OT), Jacksonville (9-8 2OT)
2015 Bad Losses Siena (15-8), High Point (7-6)



The Bears were a dominant force in SoCon play yet again in 2015, but could not record a win outside of league play.  As a young team in 2014, the Bears got even younger in 2015, with underclassmen such as Chris Baxa, Chris Rahill, and Jackson Kleintz recording over 20 points on the season.  In fact, half of the team’s top ten scorers are freshman, while Tim Geran is the only senior on that top ten list.  With a young nucleus being developed, Mercer looks to start to dominate the SoCon in 2016.

The Bears could not get a win in their first five games, all of which were non-conference games.  Boston and Duke was no match for Mercer, while Siena got by the Bears, followed by Detroit and Marquette.  Then SoCon play began and Mercer had another chance to redeem their season.  They took on SoCon favorite High Point and defeated the Panthers 12-11 in overtime, followed the next week by another OT victory against Furman.  The Bears defeated Bellarmine and VMI to take a hold for a tie of 1st place along with Richmond.  But after the Bears lost to Air Force, they defeated Jacksonville in a thrilling 9-8 double-overtime game.  But in the next week against Richmond to decide the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament as well as who would host the tourney, Richmond came away with a 10-5 victory, and the Bears had to face High Point for the second time this season.  The second time wasn’t the same, as High Point defeated Mercer by a goal, en route to a SoCon Conference Championship.

In reality, winning your respective league tournament in such as the SoCon is the only way teams will make it into the NCAA Tournament.  Teams could lose all of their non-conference games, such as Mercer, and still make the NCAA Tournamnet thanks to being dominant in conference play.  Sure Mercer is a threat in the SoCon, along with High Point and Richmond, but I would think Head Coach Kyle Hannan and his staff would like to see his team win some non-conference games in 2016 and beyond.



Joshua Williamson Defense/LSM Seminole (FL)
Zachary Schott Midfield Benedictine Military (GA)
Kiel Brennan Midfield Mountain Vista (CO)
Will Beecham Midfield/FO Roswell (GA)
Gabe Anderson Defense/LSM Minnetonka (MN)/Salisbury (CT)
Carter Jordan Attack Penfield (NY)
Lucas Wittenberg Midfield/Attack Harrison (GA)
Tyler Boardo Goalie Tabor Academy (MA)
Mikey Ewing Attack St. Maria Goretti (MD)
Austin Vogel Defense Lake Norman (NC)
Brian Kelly Attack Mount Lebanon (PA)
Rob Serafin LSM New Albany (OH)
Hank Morgan Defense McIntosh (GA)
Jake Priester Midfield Charlotte Catholic (NC)

The Bears will bring in 14 new recruits to replace only five seniors, which means the majority of the team stays for another season.  One senior the team will miss is Justin Evans, the face-off specialist.  Rising sophomore Marco Amalfitano went 8-for-22 on draws in 2015, and may be the incoming FOGO, unless Will Beecham dominates during the fall and spring.  Gabe Anderson could be useful in 2016 at defense, with the departure of Justin Wood at the position.