Fall Snapshot: St. Bonaventure Bonnies

(Photo Courtesy of St. Bonaventure 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: Randy Mearns (5th Season, 2019-Current)

St. Bonaventure 2022 Record: 11-4 (5-1 MAAC)

Key Departures: Jackson Rose (A), Jake Rosa (A), Trent Grainger (FO), Brett Dobson (G)

Key Returners: Sean Westley (A), Brady Wijbrandts (M), Zack Belter (D), David Steria (D)

Transfer Additions: N/A

In St. Bonaventure’s first season of play in 2019 they went 0-13. They then went 0-6 during the shortened 2020 campaign. However, things started to click for the young program in its third season of existence as the Bonnies went 5-5 against a MAAC-only schedule and made the league semifinals.

After seeing that slow growth through its first three seasons, St. Bonaventure that traditional fourth year bump many new programs of recent have seen. The Bonnies went 11-4 (5-1) and fell to Manhattan in the MAAC title game. Now, the Bonnies will be looking to build upon that season and they will be doing so in the Atlantic 10.

With multiple key pieces gone from last season, expectations somewhat cloudy for the Bonnies in the A-10. They move to their home conference for lacrosse along with Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, and UMass. High Point and Hobart are affiliate members. It’ll be a test for this program for sure.

Burning Questions

Who Replaces Brett Dobson in Cage?

The biggest question mark for this St. Bonaventure program heading into year five lies in between the pipes. Brett Dobson held the role of starting goalie for four seasons and as a senior last spring went out on a fairly high note. Dobson made 252 saves with a 66.5% save percentage and ended the season ranked first nationally in save percentage.

Replacing what Dobson brought to this team is impossible. But filling that void and finding a suitable replacement in cage who can produce on a consistent basis as the anchor of what should still be a pretty good defense is a must for the Bonnies.

Redshirt senior Conan Lynch and junior Tyler Muir both return and have a combined experience of two 12 minutes and four seconds. Muir has one career save and Lynch has zero. In addition to those two, the Bonnies have freshman Christian Cucciufero on the roster. He enters college after a decorated high school career.

Who Takes Over at The Faceoff Dot?

The area in which the Bonnies were the most improved at last season was the faceoff dot. After three seasons in which no player even reached a 40% winning percentage on the year, freshman Trent Grainger came in and put together the best season at the dot the Bonnies have seen. Grainger went 129-for-244 (52.9%) as the top option at the dot and was named a MAAC All-Rookie selection.

St. Bonaventure will be the beneficiary of Grainger’s services no more as he entered the transfer portal over the summer and landed at fellow A-10 program Richmond. With that, St. Bonaventure has another speciality position in which they need to find an answer. And that answer will come from one of two freshmen.

Quinn Nolan (Palmyra Macedon, N.Y.) and Aidan Smith (Bridgeland, Texas) both come in as freshman at the position and are the only two faceoff men listed on the Bonnies roster. Nolan went 87% at the dot as a high school senior and helped his team to a sectional title. Smith went 70% as a senior and was ranked as a three-star recruit by Inside Lacrosse.

How Will The Holes on Offense Be Filled?

In 2022, St. Bonaventure had the 46th best scoring offense in DI and the top offense in the MAAC as they averaged 10.73 goals per game. They also topped the league in overall points per game (17.40) and shooting percentage (31%). It was a jump up from where the Bonnies’ offense had been as they averaged 9.3, 6.1, and 6.2 goals per game in its previous three seasons.

Of its top five point-getters from a year ago, only three return. Sean Westley (20G/26A), who was the quarterback of the offense, and Austin Blumbergs (19G/4A) return for a fifth season while Sophomore Conor Murphy (10G/10A) is back following a strong freshman campaign that landed him on the MAAC All-Rookie team. St. Bonaventure loses its top goal-scorer in Jackson Rose (40G/3A) as well as Jake Rosa (24G/15A), who will be playing his fifth season of college lacrosse at Marquette.

Westley, Blumbergs, and Murphy form a very nice core for this offense to build around. How those other pieces come together is the big question on that end of the field. Sophomore midfielder Anthony Cimino (1G/14A), graduate student Zach Owens (6G/4A), and senior Jake Emmick (7G/1A), who started each of the last four games of the 2022 season, are the next best returning producers from last season for this offense.

Potential Breakout Player

Conor Murphy, Attack, Sophomore

Not a full unknown as Murphy was a top five scorer for this team a year ago as a reserve and is one of its top three returning offensive producers. However, after tallying 10 goals and 10 assist in his role as a freshman last spring, I would expect some bigger things this season from the attackman as the Bonnies have two starting spots at the position to replace.

Freshman Class

St. Bonaventure brings in a 10-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts.

2 thoughts on “Fall Snapshot: St. Bonaventure Bonnies

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