OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s been a whirlwind of a four years for the very first Bonnie’s men’s lacrosse freshman class.
From starting their collegiate careers 0-19, those 20 guys that started the program are now seniors, and have led St. Bonaventure to an 8-3 season this year, they’re sitting at the top of the MAAC, and they’re just one win away from making it back to the postseason for the second straight season.
“It’s been amazing and a testament to all the hard work we’ve done since the beginning of this program,” St. Bonaventure senior attackman Sean Westley said. “You see the 34 freshman coming in now down to 20, as seniors we’re all bigger, stronger, faster, so it’s pretty cool to have some success, be 8-3 and just trying to keep building this going into the conference playoffs hopefully.”
“You start to see in year four in the program that your freshmen are better than we were when we were freshmen,” St. Bonaventure senior defenseman Zack Belter said. “For our senior class, guys that have been here since day one who got picked on for the first two years are bigger, faster, stronger, we’ve evolved as a program. Practices change, but it’s really cool to be a part of the development.”
“Any chance you get the chance to play four years in the NCAA alone, especially as freshmen, you’re going to take what you’ve learned each year,” St. Bonaventure senior goalie Brett Dobson said. “Most people relatively don’t play until their junior or senior year at big programs.
“I think that because we’ve had that experience and we’re all seniors now, it allows us to understand what it takes to beat teams and have that veteran leadership presence from the back end and on the offensive end as well that allows us to close out games. That’s one of the biggest differences from last year. Last year, we’d never been there, right? This year, we’ve got a taste of it and we’re understanding what it takes to keep this thing rolling,” Dobson said.
The Bonnies made a late playoff push at the end of last season to advance to the postseason for the first time in program history, and continued that historical run by winning their first ever playoff game in an electric 11-8 win over Detroit Mercy.
Now that they’ve been there, this team has learned a lot and is ready to set the bar even higher this year.
“I think what we’ll take away from that is if we continue to stick together and execute a game plan, we can be successful,” St. Bonaventure head coach Randy Mearns said. “It was super exciting when we hosted the playoff game here against Detroit, it was such a great environment in the rolling hills, and our guys just played flawlessly. It was awesome for our program and for our school to finally get to that point.”
“I think we can reflect back on those experiences and know that it’s absolutely possible. I think that allowed us to really believe in ourselves, that we can get to the conference championship, we can win the conference championship, and it’s very very believable,” Mearns said.
St. Bonaventure is on the road this weekend as they look to clinch their playoff berth at Quinnipiac on Saturday at noon.