(Photo Courtesy of St. Bonaventure Athletics)
Entering their third season as a program, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies have one main goal in mind. That goal is to record their first win in program history. The Bonnies went 0-13 during their inaugural season in 2013 and were 0-6 when the 2020 season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
But just because they have yet to win a game doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been any growth within this program or that they haven’t been close to capturing that first win. In 2019 they only lost to MAAC opponents Manhattan and Monmouth by three and two goals. This past spring they fell to a High Point team that blew them out, 13-0, the year before by a score of 13-8.
Additionally, the Bonnies saw improvement on the back end. They went from being ranked 73rd in scoring defense, allowing 14.85 goals per game, in 2019 to ranking 59th in scoring defense, allowing 14.17 goals per game, during the shortened 2020 season. They also improved their clearing percentage from 76% (71st in DI) to 84% (T-43rd in DI).
Those improvements that have been made over the first two seasons are obviously just the beginning of the climb for this program. And with as much talent as they have coming back in 2021, the Bonnies should see even more improvement and could very well capture their first win in program history.
As previously mentioned, their defense has seen the most improvement from year one to year two. That trend should continue this coming spring. The Bonnies not only return starting goalie Brett Dobson, who started five games last season and seven of the 13 games in 2019, but they also return a sizable chunk of talent on that end.
Redshirt sophomores Nick Conklin (13GB/9CT), who led the team in both ground balls and caused turnovers, Brodie Anderson (5GB/1CT), and David Steria (6GB/4CT) will all be key members of the Bonnies’ close defense unit returning this spring. Anderson and Steria made multiple starts and Conklin is the only close defenseman on the squad that started all six contests. Additionally, the Bonnies have a strong LSM group, which is headlined by redshirt sophomore Zack Belter (2G/5GB/6CT), who can also play close if needed. Ryan Burns (5GB/2CT) and Andrew Hersey (4GB/1CT) also saw significant action at the LSM spot and could see more time and increased production this coming spring.
Things are pretty similar on the offensive end with a ton of guys returning, the majority of them being redshirt sophomores. However, they have added Ohio Valley (DIII) grad transfer attackman Matthew Cromie. He not only makes this unit deeper, but also adds some veteran leadership and experience to the mix.
St. Bonaventure returns four of their top five scorers from a year ago in redshirt sophomore attackman Jackson Rose (5G/1A), redshirt freshman Mark Belles (2G/4A), redshirt freshman midfielder Jake Rosa (5G), and redshirt sophomore attackman/midfielder Matthew DeGirolamo (5G). Midfielder Cian Collins and attackman/midfielder Austin Blumbergs are two other guys that will be returning and should make a significant impact this spring, along with multiple others.
The one area that the Bonnies will need to drastically improve for either this defense or offense to reach their full potential in 2021 is at the faceoff dot. St. Bonaventure was dead last in faceoff percentage (.214) in DI last season. Whether Jack Almond (12-54) is their main guy for the third straight season, they move onto someone else, or go the faceoff by committee approach, the Bonnies need to improve at the spot. If they don’t this defense will face heavy pressure just as they have the past two seasons and their offense could face the reality of being one of the lowest time of possession teams again, which is no recipe for success.