St. Bonaventure will look to keep its momentum going when it faces Little Three rival Canisius on the road Tuesday night. Longtime rivals in other sports, the Bonnies and Golden Griffs have a renewed rivalry in the sport of men's lacrosse following the rebirth of the Bonnies program in 2019. Men's lacrosse stands as the only sport that the Bonnies and Griffs are conference foes.
The Bonnies will be looking for their first win over Canisius since 1993 when St. Bonaventure's team dropped from the varsity to club level. Canisius took the first meeting between schools as Division I rivals, 16-8, at the Marra Athletics Complex in 2019. In the late 80s and early 90s, the Bonnies and Griffs split four games against each other.
While the rest of the MAAC schedule has teams playing a weekend-only format, the Bonnies will have a quick turnaround for this Tuesday evening special in Buffalo. Originally slated to play last month before the conference schedule was altered, Tuesday's game is the only scheduled mid-week contest of the season for the Bonnies.
This past Friday, St. Bonaventure scored a win for the history books as the Bonnies tallied their first MAAC victory in a thriller over previously undefeated Manhattan, 9-8. Bona's first win of the year at Quinnipiac in March came in a game that did not count toward conference standings.
In Friday's triumph, Sean Westley led the way with five total points including one of two Bonnies hat tricks - Austin Blumbergs had the other, his second of the season, after tallying three goals just as Westley did. Freshman Austin Holley set program records in both faceoffs won (14) and groundballs (10), Jake Rosa posted two goals and two assists and goalkeeper Brett Dobson finished with 15 saves and a 65 percent save percentage for the afternoon.
Brett Beetow, celebrating his 21st birthday, scored the game-winner with a wrap-around goal just 2:21 before the final buzzer, breaking a late tie.
Bona's 32 team groundballs also set a program record.
RISING UP THE RANKS
St. Bonaventure's defense remains one of the best in the nation this season. The Bonnies are allowing just 8.6 goals per game, rising to sixth in the country.
A big reason for that is the play of Brett Dobson in the cage. The junior ranks fifth nationally in save percentage (.606) and ninth in goals against average (8.6) as well as 10th in saves per game (13.2).
Jake Rosa added four points in Friday's win, rising to second in the MAAC in assists per game as well as 25th nationally (2.2/game). Sean Westley moved into the MAAC top-10 in goals per game as well (1.8) following his hat trick last week. Westley added to his team-best points total since the rebirth of the program in 2019. In 24 career games, the Ontario native has registered 47 points (24 goals, 23 assists).
The Bonnies recorded the fastest consecutive goals in program history during Friday's win over Manhattan when Jake Rosa took an assist from Brett Beetow for a goal with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Austin Holley won the next faceoff, flipping ahead to Mark Belles who passed to Sean Westley for another tally just seven seconds later.
The trip to Buffalo is a familiar one for Bonnies head coach Randy Mearns. A Canisius College alumnus, Mearns led his alma mater for 19 seasons before taking the Bonaventure job on June 20, 2017.
While at Canisius, Mearns led the Griffs to two MAAC Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2008 and 2012, guiding 41 all-conference performers along the way. He won 100 career games while at Canisius and six of his players were selected in the first round of the NLL Draft and three others were selected in the MLL Draft.
Mearns finished his collegiate playing career ranking second in Griffs career scoring with 190 points and as the Canisius record-holder in single season points (94) and assists (49) before being drafted by the Buffalo Bandits in 1992 and starting his pro career.
Tuesday will be the first time that Mearns has returned to Canisius on the visiting sideline.
The Griffs are 2-2 overall and 1-2 in conference games and looking to bounce back from a loss at home to Detroit Mercy this past Friday, 13-5. Both of Canisius' wins have come against Siena - 8-7 to begin the year in a "non-conference" game and on the road 12-10 on March 20. The Griffs also lost at home to Manhattan, 10-7, March 13.
The Griffs are the MAAC's best man-up offense, converting over 42 percent of their tries, while the Bonnies have held opponents to a 27 percent success rate on the power play.
Ryan Sharkey ranks third in the conference and 20th nationally in caused turnovers per game (1.75) while Otto Bergman allows 10.5 goals per game in the cage.
Jacob Buck has posted a team-best six goals with three assists. Connor Beals has won 49 of 85 faceoff attempts while scooping up 25 groundballs.
Canisius is led by head coach Mark Miyashita, who played for Mearns four seasons while tallying 145 points as a player. The pair also coached together for Team Canada at the 0218 FIL World Championships in Israel, winning the silver medal.
ON THE ROAD ... ONE MORE TIME
Tuesday's game is the last scheduled road game of the regular season for the Bonnies. The Brown and White finish the slate with a pair of scheduled home games - vs. Marist this Friday before welcoming Siena Saturday, April 24. The MAAC Quarterfinals are set for Friday, April 30 at host campus sites.
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