February 1, 2013

Merrimack's Lunney Can Carry Warriors

Senior midfielder is LM's MD2 preseason player of year

Corey Lunney has led Merrimack in goals in each of his first three seasons and has twice been named top player in New England.
© Greg Wall

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Coyne Archive

Mike Morgan found Corey Lunney in a strange way. Lunney's coach at Red Bank High in Little Silver, N.J., happened to know the brother of the goalie Morgan played with during his college days at Merrimack. He wanted to send Morgan, now the Warrior's coach, highlights of his under-recruited midfielder.

"I got home for dinner that night and flipped it on," Morgan said. "Within three highlights, I called Corey and said, 'We've got to get you to campus ASAP.' He got to campus and we offered him that day. I was positive he was going to be a big-time player."

A link that accompanied Lunney's academic transcript sent by his mother cinched it for Morgan. It was a story from a local newspaper about an upcoming playoff hockey game.

"Corey was quoted as saying, 'We're going to go out there and win this game, and I don't care if I have to put the team on my back,'" Morgan said. "'I'll do whatever it takes.'"

Three days later, Morgan found out how that game transpired. "We were losing 5-1 in the third period," Lunney said. "I scored four goals. And then it went to a shootout, and I scored in the shootout to win it."

Morgan had his man.

"Confident, but humble enough to know you have to work your [butt] off and carry a team," Morgan said.

Lunney has carried Merrimack since he arrived in 2009. In each of his first three seasons, he has led the Warriors in goals and was twice named the top player in New England.

Merrimack is 37-12 over the last three seasons, but Northeast-10 foes Le Moyne and Adelphi have thwarted the Warriors in their pursuit of an NCAA tournament bid.

Merrimack also has been hobbled by awful regular season losses — like a 7-6 setback against Southern New Hampshire last year. They have taken a personal toll on Lunney. "He takes losses as hard as anybody," Morgan said.

The Warriors must again navigate the Northeast-10 — the most competitive conference in Division II — and a nonconference schedule that includes NCAA finalist Limestone.

The Division II tournament will expand from four to eight teams this spring. "Urgency has been a word we've been using a lot," Morgan said. "It sucks when you finish 13-3 and you've had a bad season. But that's kind of the bar we've set."

Fortunately, they have the guy willing to make sure we see Merrimack in May.

This article appears in the February issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.


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