RMU Lacrosse: McMinn, Matisz Headline RMU’s 11 All-NEC Honorees
Friday, May 4, 2012
First-year head coach Andrew McMinn and senior midfielder Kiel Matisz (Stoney Creek, Ontario / Saltfleet) of the Robert Morris University men’s lacrosse team took home two of the major postseason awards from the Northeast Conference (NEC) at the league’s annual banquet held Thursday evening at the Pittsburgh Airport Holiday Inn on the eve of the conference tournament.
McMinn was selected as the NEC Coach of the Year in voting conducted by his peers while Matisz was named both NEC Player of the Year and NEC Offensive Player of the Year.
These three honors were the most significant collected by the Colonials, but they were far from the only ones RMU was awarded on the evening. Robert Morris claimed 13 honors in all, which were won by 11 distinct individuals (10 players, one coach)--both of those figures are new NEC records for the men’s lacrosse all-conference honors. Remarkably, each member of RMU’s primary first attack unit and primary first offensive midfield unit earned all-conference honors.
In addition to Matisz, junior attackman Jake Hayes (Calgary, Alberta / Central Memorial) and senior midfielder Kyle Buchanan (Nepean, Ontario / John McCrae) both earned All-NEC First Team accolades.
Senior Casey Abbott (San Jose, Calif. / Bellarmine Prep.), redshirt junior attackman Dave Morton (Orangeville, Ontario / Hill School), redshirt senior midfielder Kevin Brownell (Burlington, Ontario / Central), senior midfielder Mike Grosz (St. Louis, Mo. / Parkway West) and junior defenseman Ben Lewis (Cazenovia, N.Y. / Cazenovia Central) all earned All-NEC Second Team honors for the Colonials.
Finally, freshman defenseman Luc Magnan (Pine Falls, Manitoba / The Hill Academy) and freshman goaltender Matt Bukovac (Ashburn, Va. / Briar Woods) both claimed All-NEC Rookie Team awards.
In his first season as a collegiate head coach, McMinn has continued the rapid rise of the RMU’s men’s lacrosse program. He has led Robert Morris to a program-record 11 wins in just 14 games thus far, including posting a perfect 5-0 record in league play. As a result, the Colonials claimed the NEC regular-season crown, the first conference title of any kind for the men’s lacrosse program. RMU, which is riding a six-game winning streak, tied for the longest in program history, has also been in the national conversation under McMinn. Robert Morris is currently nationally ranked for the second time in program history as it entered the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll in April. The Colonials have posted multiple wins over nationally ranked teams in 2012, the first such occurrence in school history, including a 9-7 victory at Ohio State in March. Robert Morris led the nation in scoring offense at the week’s outset and also had tied its school record for assists in a season, matching the 2010 squad’s mark in one fewer game. Also, under McMinn’s leadership, the first Colonial in school history was selected as a semifinalist for the Tewaaraton Award.
McMinn becomes the first head coach in program history to receive a postseason coaching award.
Matisz is having his best offensive season in a Colonial uniform in his final campaign with the squad. He was recently named as one
of the final 25 nominees nationally for the 2012 Tewaaraton Award, recognizing college lacrosse’s player of the year. He has tallied 58 points, tied for third in single-season school history, in just 14 games on the strength of 36 goals and 22 assists. At the week's outset, he was tied for sixth nationally in points per game (4.14) and 15th in goals per game (2.57). He is both three points and three assists away from matching the single-season school records in each of those categories. Matisz is converting on a career-best 44.4 percent of his shots, a mark that is 18th nationally, which has helped him produce 11 multi-goal efforts in the past 12 games. He posted two of his best performances against two top foes--he netted six points (3g, 3a) against current No. 12 Denver and then followed it up by notching seven points (6g, 1a) against current No. 11 Colgate. Matisz currently ranks third at RMU in career points (160), fifth in career goals (90) and second in career assists (70).
Matisz’s paramount year honor marks the third time in three years in which a Colonial has been named NEC Player of the Year. He becomes the first Colonial in program history to claim post-season conference honors in each of his four years, including collecting three straight All-NEC First Team awards to close his career.
Hayes, who claimed his first career all-conference honor, has compiled a breakout junior campaign and has tallied 58 points (40g, 14a) in 14 games. He led the league and ranked seventh nationally in goals per game (2.86) entering this past week as he had become just the third Colonial ever to post 40 scores in a single season. He is also tied for first in the league in points per game (4.14), along with Matisz, and was tied for sixth nationally in that category entering the week. He has his precision to thank for his exploits as his 58 percent shooting percentage ranks second nationally, just .3 percent off the top mark. Hayes earned four NEC Offensive Player of the Week awards during the season as he was the only student-athlete in the league to claim more than one. He has 11 multi-goal games this season and has notched four games with at least six points in the team’s past 12 outings. Hayes tied the single-game school record for goals with a seven-score outburst against Air Force in February before he broke the program’s single-game points record by registering five goals and a career-high four assists in an April victory over Quinnipiac.
After netting second-team honors in each of the past two years, Buchanan claimed his third straight all-conference honor in 2012 but his initial one of the first-team variety. Buchanan has posted 22 assists, which is tied for second in single-season program history and is just three of the top mark. He has added 15 goals to tally a career-high 37 points and has grabbed 40 ground balls, second on the team. He sits second in the league in assists per game (1.69), ranking among the top 20 nationally, and is also sixth in the NEC in points per game (2.85). Within league play, he raised his game as he tied for first in assists per game (2.40) and was fourth in points per game (4.20). He tied the single-game school record of five assists in RMU’s victory over nationally ranked Bryant that clinched the regular-season title and finished the day by tying his career high with six points. Earlier this season, he broke RMU’s all-time assists record, and currently tops the chart with 72, and he also became the sixth Colonial to surpass 100 points for his career.
Abbott garnered his first all-conference award in his final year of eligibility as he had the best offensive season of his career on the attack for RMU. He reset his career highs in goals (17), assists (11) and points (28) and also set new bests in ground balls (22) and caused turnovers (seven). Abbott ranked among the top 10 in the league in goals per game in conference play and had a string of six consecutive games with multiple points, four of which came in league play. He notched six multi-goal games on the season, including in the conference opener when he tallied career highs of four goals and five points in a road win against Wagner.
Morton claimed his first All-NEC honor after exploding onto the scene near the midpoint of the season. He has posted career bests of 27 goals, 18 assists and 45 points and ranks among the top 50 nationally and among the top 10 in the NEC in both goals per game and points per game. Morton really picked up his performance during league play as he tallied at least three points against every NEC foe, including posting a pair of eight-point outings. During conference play, he led the league in both goals per game and points per game with fantastic averages of 3.40 and 5.80, respectively. He became just the sixth Colonial ever to score at least a half-dozen goals in a game April 21 against Quinnipiac and entered the week ranked 15th nationally in shooting percentage (45.8 percent).
Brownell brought home his second postseason honor on the strength of 15 goals and eight assists, combining for 23 points. He has also notched career bests in both ground balls (22) and caused turnovers (six). Brownell tallied five multi-point games, including four multi-goal efforts during the season. He collected hat tricks in road victories at both Hobart and Sacred Heart and tied his career high of four points in the latter contest. Brownell has posted 23 multi-point efforts and 13 multi-goal performances in his career and ranks among the top nine all-time at RMU in goals (42), assists (38) and points (80).
With Matisz, Buchanan and Brownell all claiming All-NEC honors, it marked the first time in school history in which at least three Colonials were selected as all-conference midfielders in the same season.
Grosz claimed his first All-NEC accolade after racking up faceoff wins and ground balls in his final season. He broke his own single-season record for ground balls as he became the first Colonial in school history to surpass 100 in a season. He entered the week ranked sixth nationally in ground balls per game (7.64) and raised his game in NEC play as his 9.2 ground balls per game led the league in conference play. Grosz broke RMU’s career GB record earlier this season and currently tops the charts with 251. Grosz has won 54.6 percent of his faceoffs on the campaign, ranking 21st nationally entering the week, and has actually won 56.1 percent of his faceoffs since the beginning of March. Grosz had one of the best single-game efforts by any faceoff man across the country this season March 3 against nationally ranked Colgate when he won 28-of-40 faceoffs and claimed 18 ground balls. The 28 faceoffs won and 18 GB not only represented single-game school records but were the best by any player nationally entering the week.
Lewis earned his second straight all-conference honor after leading the Colonial defense once again. He leads the team with 17 caused turnovers, ranking among the single-season top five at RMU for the second-consecutive year, and has notched a career-high 25 ground balls, which is tops among RMU defensemen. He had perhaps his best performance of 2012 in the crucial regular-season finale against nationally ranked Bryant as he posted four ground balls and three caused turnovers, including one late in the fourth quarter. Lewis has started every game this season, and 23 consecutive overall, while helping Robert Morris rank second nationally in ground balls per game (36.64). Lewis ranks fourth all-time at Robert Morris with 38 career caused turnovers and has also claimed 45 GB in his career.
Magnan has competed in 12 games for the Colonials on the defensive end, including starting eight contests this season. He has tallied 18 ground balls, including five in a win at UMBC, and has four caused turnovers. Magnan also notched his first-career point in just his third collegiate game as he posted a fourth-quarter assist in a victory over Air Force.
Bukovac has started in a team-high six games between the pipes this season and has notched 57 saves in 264:52 of action. He made an immediate impact when he notched 16 saves on 24 shots on goal, posting a .667 save percentage in a win at UMBC, and was subsequently named NEC Defensive Player of the Week and NEC Co-Rookie of the Week. He would then post 11 saves against nationally ranked Denver, part of a stretch in which RMU started the season with 10 straight double-digit save efforts. Bukovac just earned his second NEC Rookie of the Week award in the final regular-season release of the season after tallying nine saves and grabbing a career-high four ground balls as RMU knocked off nationally ranked Bryant.
Matisz’s offensive player of the year award was the first by a Colonial in program history. ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY
Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.