MLAX: Bonnies travel to Monmouth for MAAC semifinal

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.” 

MLAX: After first win, Bonnies strive for more success in third season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONVAENTURE, NY — Pride. 

That’s the feeling St. Bonaventure men’s lacrosse head coach Randy Mearns feels when he sees the work and grit his team is putting in to get better.

The Bonnies, in their third season since the return of SBU’s men’s lacrosse program, have been faced with many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I am really proud of our guys,” Mearns said. “They have been following all of the protocols and trying to stay in their groups. It is really tough on young people to do this, but our guys are doing a great job.” 

Despite the pandemic, Mearns and his staff have continued to build their program looking one game at a time. 

“It is a learning process,” Mearns said. “We had to adjust to the Division I level and build our program. We have been able to do that with our juniors, who have been here since year one. We continue to build our program with freshmen and sophomores.” 

Every game, including Saturday’s contest with Quinnipiac, provides a learning experience for Mearns’ crew. 

“There are a ton of pieces to a game, and every time we play, we learn something new about the game, and the way we need to play,” Mearns said.  We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to play well, in every game, if we want to get the win.” 

The third-year coach recognizes his team clinched a 13-6 victory against Quinnipiac on March 6, the program’s first victory since its return, but doesn’t want to let its hint of success be a distraction. 

“Quinnipiac is going to be a much different team, this time around,” Mearns said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to play well if we want to get the win.”

 Mearns was right, as Saturday’s rematch against Quinnipiac resulted in a defensive battle that SBU came out on the short side of, 5-4.

The loss dropped Bona’s record to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (first game against Quinnipiac ruled a non-conference game) ahead of an April 3 home matchup against Manhattan. 

Mearns said the scene at SBU’s Marra Athletics Complex will look a little different soon, however.

According to Mearns, each student-athlete can soon have two family members attend the team’s home games. Members of the campus community are also encouraged to attend games at the Marra Athletic Complex. 

“It’s really exciting to see people in the stands, or on the hill,” Mearns said. “It gives the guys something to play for. I hope our guys play well for their parents. They can show mom and dad how much they have improved, and what Bonaventure lacrosse is about.” 

Mearns doesn’t often look at the future of his program, but when he does, he sees both “an interesting opportunity” and challenges.

Last year, the NCAA granted all student-athletes an additional year of eligibility. However, the Bonnies will not have to worry about that for one more season. Burns said some concerns include having the right graduate programs and the monetary aspect for his players.

“Those conversations have happened behind the scenes but will be decided later,” he said. 

Right now, though, the Bonnies have one goal in mind.

“We want to win our conference championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament.”