photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Anthony Goss
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ — “We earned our right to get to the semifinals,” St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse coach Randy Mearns said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we are excited for the opportunity.”
The Bonnies played their way into their first ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinal after a fast start and eventual 11-8 victory over Detroit Mercy on Friday afternoon.
“You kind of feel the confidence,” Mearns said. “We just continue to say, ‘don’t get too high or don’t get too low’.”
Despite the excitement surrounding the team, the Bonnies remain quiet but confident in their ability.
“Guys have this quiet energy, this quiet confidence,” Mearns said. “We got great guys in the locker room; they just work hard every day.”
Bona came into its last matchup as an underdog when it hosted Detroit. This time, the underdogs will hit the road against the Monmouth Hawks, the No. 2 seed in the MAAC men’s lacrosse championship tournament.
“I think we relish that role,” Mearns said. “We also know that we were in every game this year, even the Monmouth game (that) we lost.”
In their lone matchup against the Hawks, the Bonnies took a 10-8 lead into the fourth quarter but could not finish the job. Monmouth outscored Bona 5-2 in the final frame to secure a 13-12 victory.
“We had four or five failed clears, and that resulted in more opportunities for them,” Mearns said. “But that’s the learning experience.”
Clearing was an issue for SBU, but face-offs were another area where Bona struggled. Monmouth crushed the faceoff battle, 24-5.
Mearns’ squad has adjusted, however, and the third-year skipper believes his players are more confident heading into their second game against the Hawks.
“We’ve made some adjustments on the wings, and I think that has provided some confidence to Austin (Holley),” Mearns said. “We’re hopeful he’s going to be able to give (Matt) Soutar a better run for his money.”
Soutar and five other Hawks were placed on all-conference teams. Defenseman Chris Hervada was named co-defensive player of the year. Mearns knows the Bonnies will have to be on guard in this rematch.
“We have to earn everything,” Mearns said. “If we hit singles and not go for home runs, we like our chances.”
The Bonnies and the Hawks will square off at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Monmouth’s Kessler Stadium, and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
“It’s the wacky MAAC,” Mearns said. “On any given day, anybody can beat anybody.”