(Photo Courtesy of Canisius Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Mark Miyashita (Sixth season, 2018-Current)
Canisius 2022 Record: 2-12 (1-5 MAAC)
Key Departures: Jacob Buck (A), Johnny Richiusa (FO), Ryan Sharkey (D), Matt Vavonese (G)
Key Returners: Colin Kelly (A), Keegan Kozack (A), Chance Cook (D), Isaiah Ricketts (SSDM)
Transfer Additions: Jack Isabelle (A, Roanoke)
In Mark Miyashita’s first season as the head coach in 2018, he led his alma mater to its second ever MAAC title and NCAA Tournament berth. The Golden Griffins followed that season up with another trip to the MAAC tournament the following year. However, since that strong start to the Miyashita era, things haven’t bee too great for Canisius lacrosse.
The Golden Griffins went 0-5 during the shortened 2020 season before going 5-5 against a MAAC-only schedule in 2021. Canisius would beat Marist in the quarterfinals before falling to Manhattan in the semifinals. This past season, the Golden Griffins went 2-12 and missed the postseason all together.
Along with the rest of its conference foes, Canisius walks into a new-look MAAC this spring with LIU, Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, and Wagner joining the league from the NEC. VMI joins from the SoCon. St. Bonaventure and Monmouth have exited the league for the A-10 and CAA. In this new era, can Canisius begin to trend back towards the top?
Who is The Starting Goalie?
After five seasons in Buffalo and two serving as the primary starting goalie, Matt Vavonese has gradated. He started the final six games of 2021 and made 73 saves with a 51% save percentage before making 183 saves with a 49.5% save percentage this past spring. The loss of Vavonese will see the changing of the guard in cage once again for the Golden Griffins.
Who assumes the role as starting goalie is one of the most pressing questions surrounding this Canisius program heading into the 2023 season. And they answer will come out of a young, three-man goalie room.
Redshirt sophomore Garet Long saw 32 minutes of action over five games last season and made six saves with a 40% save percentage. Sophomore Tommy Kunz started against Robert Morris last season and in the 10-plus minutes of action he saw made two saves with a 20% save percentage. Freshman Mark Matott (Liverpool, N.Y.) is the third goalie on the roster.
What is The Faceoff Situation?
Canisius didn’t end the year particularly high in many statistical categories. But the one area in which they did have a strength advantage was at the faceoff dot with Johnny Richiusa. He went 149-for-286 (52%) and ended the season ranked fourth in faceoff percentage in the MAAC and 39th nationally (fourth among freshmen). Richiusa was also a MAAC All-Rookie Selection.
The star faceoff man entered the transfer portal following the season and has since taken his talents to Syracuse. Thus leaving the Golden Griffins with a hole to fill at the faceoff dot for the second consecutive year.
Canisius has two players on the roster at the position in freshmen Micah Hanson and Gino DeVenecie. So, It’ll be a very young core that the Golden Griffins will have to see their production come from in 2023.
Can Canisius Clean Up The Clearing Game?
As mentioned, there weren’t many statistical categories where Canisius had much an edge in. They were mostly a middle of the road or bottom half team in many facets of the game. The area in which they struggled the most, however, was the clearing game as the Golden Griffins were one of the worst clearing team in college lacrosse.
Canisius went 237-for-304 in the clearing game, which is good for a 70% success rate. That put them just above Detroit Mercy and Hampton as the third-worst team in clearing percentage in DI. Last season’s performance marked the second consecutive season in which the Golden Griffins went under 80% in the clearing game. They went 79.7% in 2021.
Is clearing the most fun thing in lacrosse? No. But it is a super important area to have success in and the better you clear the more chances your offense has to win you games. And in the case of Canisius, it is one of the areas in which they need to improve the most coming into 2023.
Potential Breakout Player
Jaxon Fridge, Midfield, Sophomore
Fridge had himself a solid freshman campaign with Canisius last spring as he tallied eight points off two goals and six assists. As part of a sizable reserve contributor group last season, Fridge could see even more production this spring.
Canisius brings in a 15-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts.