Moon Township, PA – For the second-consecutive season, the Robert Morris University men’s lacrosse team had three former Colonials chosen in the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Entry Draft, including the earliest ever selection in program history.
Kevin Brownell, Kyle Buchanan and Kiel Matisz were all drafted in the league’s annual event which was held at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Ontario earlier this week. RMU was one of only two schools in the country to have three former players selected, continuing a recent trend of numerous Colonials being drafted into professional leagues.
This trio represents the 11th, 12th and 13th times in which former Colonials have been drafted into the professional ranks when combining NLL and Major League Lacrosse (MLL) selections. Additionally, nine of these 13 selections have come since September 2011.
Matisz was selected third overall in the first round by the Minnesota Swarm, behind players from Denver and Ohio State, marking the highest a former Colonial has ever been selected. The previous top spot a Colonial was drafted was when Andrew Watt was selected eighth overall in 2008--also by the Minnesota Swarm.
For the second-consecutive year, RMU was also the lone Northeast Conference (NEC) school to have even one individual selected in the NLL Draft.
Matisz was named as both a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) All-American as well as NEC Player of the Year in leading the Colonials to their first-ever league title in 2012. He had his best offensive season in a Colonial uniform in his final campaign with the squad as he has tallied a single-season school record 64 points in just 15 games on the strength of 40 goals and 24 assists. He finished sixth nationally, and first in the NEC, in points per game (4.27), 11th nationally in goals per game (2.67) and 29th across the country in assists per game (1.60). Matisz became just the fourth Colonial ever to score 40 goals in a season and also finished third in single-season assists at RMU. He converted on a career-high 45.5 percent of his shots, which helped him produce 13 consecutive multi-point games to finish the season. He tied RMU's single-game school record of five assists, which had only been achieved twice previously at Robert Morris, en route to a career-high eight points April 21. Matisz produced two of his best performances in 2012 against a pair of squads that both reached the NCAA Quarterfinals this past season. He netted six points (3g, 3a) against Denver and followed that up by notching seven points (6g, 1a) against Colgate.
Matisz, who was also named NEC Offensive Player of the Year, took home his third consecutive first-team all-conference honor in 2012. He finished his career second in all-time points (166) at Robert Morris, fourth in career goals (94) and second in all-time assists (72). He also sits eighth in career ground balls (93) and possesses three of the top 10 highest single-season assist totals in school history. Matisz had 14 career hat tricks along with 41 multi-point games and 26 multi-goal games over his four years.
“Kiel is going to do whatever we ask of him, and he’s already made that real clear with us,” Minnesota head coach Joe Sullivan said in a Swarm release. “His size and athleticism will allow him to do what he wants on the floor, and he’s going to give a lot of teams trouble.”
Brownell, who was drafted as the second pick in the third round by the Buffalo Bandits, brought home his second postseason honor in 2012 on the strength of 15 goals and eight assists, combining for 23 points. He has also notched career bests in both ground balls (23) and caused turnovers (six). Brownell tallied five multi-point games, including four multi-goal efforts during the 2012 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 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).
Buchanan, who was taken with the first pick in the sixth round by the Washington Stealth, claimed his third straight all-conference honor in 2012 as he broke the single-season school record for assists. He posted 26 helpers, resetting a RMU record, and led the NEC with 1.86 assists per game, a mark which was 13th nationally. He added 15 goals to tally a career-high 41 points, ranking sixth in the NEC in points per game (2.93), and grabbed 46 ground balls, second on the team. 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 NEC regular-season title and finished the day by tying his career high with six points. He had 11 multi-point games on the season, including registering at least three points in each of the team's final six games, contests that included key conference matchups as well as the postseason.
In addition to breaking the program's single-season assists record, Buchanan also topped the school's all-time assists record during his senior campaign and will depart the program as the all-time leader with 76. He also sits tied for fifth in career points (128), seventh in career goals (52), second in career ground balls (175) and 10th in career caused turnovers (24). He is the only Colonial in school history to currently rank among the all-time top 10 in points, ground balls and caused turnovers.
Matisz should see some familiar faces when he arrives in Minnesota as the Swarm amazingly featured four former Colonials on their roster this past season.
Jeff Gilbert, Corbyn Tao-Brambleby and Watt were all integral pieces for Minnesota last season. Gilbert was one of just three defensemen in the entire league to earn All-Pro honors as he forced 26 turnovers, captured 66 loose balls and tallied a career-high 12 points in 16 games. Tao-Brambleby notched 43 points (21g, 22a) and 67 loose balls in his rookie campaign while Watt, a 2011 All-Star, posted 11 points, including eight goals, along with 61 loose balls while competing in every game as a transition player. Patrick Smith also made his impact by scoring a pair of goals in his lone appearance.
Another Colonial to compete in the NLL last season was Jordon Sealock who competed in 13 games as a defenseman with the Philadelphia Wings. He grabbed 18 loose balls and added a goal and an assist as he helped the Wings finish tied for second in the East Division. Sealock was then hired as an assistant coach by Robert Morris in August.
The RMU men's lacrosse team registered a program-record 11 wins in 2012, including running through NEC play undefeated to claim the league's regular-season title. The Colonials knocked off a pair of nationally-ranked squads during the campaign, including a 9-7 road victory at Ohio State, and entered the Nike/Inside Lacrosse national rankings after a six-game winning streak. Head coach Andrew McMinn was named NEC Coach of the Year in voting conducted by his peers as he helped 10 of his student-athletes earn all-conference honors while RMU also claimed the league's Team GPA and Team Sportsmanship Awards.