Note: The originally announced game time has been changed and Wednesday's faceoff time is now slated for 2:00 p.m.
Fresh off another history-making day for the program last week with their first postseason victory, the St. Bonaventure men's lacrosse team will have another chance to advance in the MAAC Championship Tournament when they travel to second-seeded Monmouth Wednesday afternoon. The winner of Wednesday's game will play the (1) Manhattan / (4) Canisius winner with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line Saturday.
Each participating student-athlete and coach may invite up to four guests. The game is not open to the general public.
Visiting team fans will be assigned sections 110-111. Masks will be required for everyone in attendance and spectators must remain socially distanced when in the stands.
LAST TIME OUT
The Bonnies played in their first-ever postseason game and went to 1-0 in postseason play by upsetting third-seeded Detroit Mercy, 11-8, last Friday.
Eight different Bonnies scored goals, tying a program record. St. Bonaventure led 5-1 after the first quarter, then went scoreless in the second period as Detroit rallied back, eventually tying the game, 5-5, early in the third. After alternating goals, the Bonnies went on a 5-0 run and never relinquished control again.
AMONG THE NATION'S BEST
St. Bonaventure held one of the MAAC's top offenses to eight goals in last Friday's semifinal win, continuing a season-long trend for what has been a lock-down defense for the Bonnies.
The Bonnies rank fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 8.78 goals per game. Only Georgetown (7.5 GAA), Monmouth (8.25) and Notre Dame (8.5) have had stingier defenses this season.
St. Bonaventure has also been one of the top penalty kill units this year, ranking sixth nationally in man-down defense with a 74 percent success rate in killing off penalties.
Brett Dobson has been key to that defensive success: Bona's junior goalkeeper has proven himself to be one of the nation's best this year. He leads the nation in save percentage (.609) and stands sixth among all Division I goalies in both GAA (8.78) and saves per game (13.67).
Interestingly, while the numbers say that Wednesday's game should be an elite defensive battle between two of the nation's top-four defenses, the first meeting between the Bonnies and Hawks brought SBU's highest-scoring game of the year to date (13-12).
ADDING TO THE POINT TOTAL
MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Jake Rosa proved worthy of that honor in his first playoff game, scoring four points with two goals and two assists. With the effort, he lifted his league-leading points total to 36 for the season, most in program history.
In addition to leading all MAAC players in points this year, Rosa also ranks 16th nationally in assists per game (2.3/game) while averaging four points per game.
IN THE MAAC RANKS
Rosa is one of several Bonnies at or near the top of major statistical categories this season among all MAAC players:
Jake Rosa: first in assists (21) and points (36)
Sean Westley: second in goals (21) and fourth in points (28)
Austin Blumbergs: sixth in goals (15)
Brett Dobson: first in saves (123), first in save percentage (.609), second in goals against average (8.78)
Zack Belter: sixth in caused turnovers (11)
Brady Wijbrandts: seventh in caused turnovers (10)
Austin Holley: ninth in groundballs per game (3.33/game)
The Bonnies and Hawks have had an interesting, albeit short, history. Earlier this season, Monmouth rallied for a 13-12 win at home on March 20.
On that day, Jake Rosa scored a career-high four goals and set a new program record with seven points while Austin Blumbergs, Zach Owens and Brett Beetow each scored twice. Monmouth led early, 7-3, but the Bonnies exploded for a 7-0 run between the second and third quarters to lead 10-7 while the Hawks did not score at all in the second quarter. Monmouth battled back for a 10-10 tie, but Owens gave the Bonnies an 11-10 edge early in the fourth. The Hawks would then score three straight and though Rosa would bring the Brown and White within one with under two minutes left, Monmouth's final run would be the difference.
The only other meeting between the two teams was also an entertaining battle that went the way of the Hawks late. St. Bonaventure led 3-0 in the first-ever meeting between the two programs April 2, 2019 behind goals from Sean Westley, Matthew DeGirolamo and Cian Collins. Monmouth did not score for over 18 minutes to begin the game, but would eventually prevail in a defensive battle, 7-5.
Monmouth enters the semifinal matchup with the Bonnies with an overall record of 6-2 and is 4-2 in MAAC play. The 2-seed Hawks defeated 7-seed Siena, 12-11, last Friday afternoon in New Jersey. Five out of their eight games have been decided by just one goal with Monmouth winning three of those contests.
Five Monmouth players earned postseason MAAC honors in 2021 led by Co-Defensive Player of the Year Chris Hervada. Also earning honors were Rudy Beck (First-Team), Matt Soutar (Second-Team), Dillon Smart (Second-Team) and Connor Macrae (All-Rookie Team).
Soutar currently ranks second in the MAAC in groundballs per game (6.63) and faceoff percentage (69.9%). Smart, Hervada and Conor Tuturice all rank in the top ten in the MAAC in caused turnovers per game. As a team, the Hawks rank second in the MAAC in man-up scoring percentage, converting at a 37.9 percent clip.
WINNING THE FACEOFF BATTLE
Entering their third season since the rebirth of the program in 2019, one of the main areas for needed improvement for the Bonnies was at the faceoff X. St. Bonaventure went 76-240 in faceoffs in their first season and 31-114 in six games last year and had never won the faceoff battle in a game prior to this year. Freshman faceoff specialist Austin Holley has given the Bonnies much better success this year and continues to improve as the season goes along. The MAAC Rookie of the Week for the week of April 2 after setting a program record with 14 faceoff wins against top-seeded Manhattan, the first time Bona ever had a positive margin in the faceoff battle during a single game, he was again key last week. After SBU went 6-15 at the faceoff X in the first meeting of the year at Detroit Mercy, Holley more than held his own against one of the league's best in Alex Jarzembowski, going 12-10 in faceoffs during the quarterfinal round.
RECORD BOOK PERFORMANCE
Bona junior Sean Westley wrote his name into the program record books in the regular season finale April 24 vs. Siena when he put on an electric performance that saw him strike for six goals. It set a new program record for single-game goal-scoring, surpassing the previous record of four. Westley earned MAAC Offensive Player of the Week accolades for his effort.
The Bonnies have re-written the program record book this season in their third year at the Division I level, and that continued last week with the release of the annual MAAC All-Conference teams and major awards.
St. Bonaventure received its first all-conference accolades since returning the program to the varsity level in 2019 as four players were recognized: Jake Rosa (attack) and Austin Blumbergs (midfield) were both named to the First Team with Zack Belter (defense) and Brett Dobson (goalie) earning Second Team honors. Rosa became Bona's first MAAC major award winner, taking Offensive Player of the Year. For more, click here for the all-conference release.
Three players - Blumbergs, Dobson and Westley – had been named to the All-Rookie Team following the 2019 campaign.
St. Bonaventure also had 16 representatives on the MAAC All-Academic Team, another program record. Brodie Anderson, Mark Belles, Austin Blumbergs, Ryan Burns, Cian Collins, Matthew DeGirolamo, CJ DiRienzo, Ben Garcia, Andrew Hersey, Jack Kenney, Ben Mazur, Zach Owens, Adam Shank, Nick Slattery, Sean Westley and Brady Wijbrandts all earned accolades from the conference.
FROM THE GROUND UP
It has been a special season for the Bonnies as many members of the original team have seen the work of the past three-plus years start to pay off.
Three seasons ago, the Bonnies boasted 33 freshmen on their inaugural roster and took their lumps in the early going. St. Bonaventure lost 19 games to begin its Division I era, but immediately turned that around with a convincing win in the very first game of 2021, 13-6, at Quinnipiac March 6.
Twenty-one of those original players are now juniors and the growth of the program has been obvious to anyone following the MAAC this season. St. Bonaventure not only broke into the win column but is riding a program-best three-game winning streak (12-11 vs. Canisius, 11-6 vs. Siena and 11-8 vs. Detroit Mercy) while winning four of the past five.
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