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2018 Men’s Lacrosse Year in Review: #17 Canisius Golden Griffins

With first-year head coach Mark Miyashita, Canisius surprised many and won their thrid MAAC championship.

Canisius Athletics

With the 2018 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to start looking back at how all 71 teams did during the season, as well as what to expect from each squad for 2019. These are not end of season rankings, as some people might think.

We’re almost done looking back to 2018 with plenty of team recaps thus far and continued our series this week with Lehigh, Saint Joseph’s Bucknell, and Vermont.

So with that, let’s continue the recaps!

#17 Canisius Golden Griffins

Conference: MAAC
2018 Record: 8-9 (3-3 in MAAC play)
Postseason: Defeated Quinnipiac and Detroit Mercy to win MAAC championship, lost to Robert Morris in NCAA play-in game
Head coach: Mark Miyashita (1st Year)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Mathieu Boissonneault (39)
Assists: Connor Kearnan (52)
Points: Connor Kearnan (83)
Faceoffs: Daniel Balawejder (148-of-348; 42.5%)
Ground balls: Reece Eddy (85)
Caused turnovers: Reece Eddy (28)
Goals against average: Liam Ganzhorn (12.94 GAA)
Save percentage: Liam Ganzhorn (44.4%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: A Connor Kearnan (31 Gs, 52 As, 21 GBs), M Steven Coss (25 Gs, 28 As, 20 GBs), A Ryan McKee (35 Gs, 11 As, 27 GBs), G Liam Ganzhorn (12.94 GAA, 44.4% SV%, 24 GBs), D Blake Rickan (13 GBs, 14 CTs), SSDM Cody Filson (34 GBs, 10 CTs, 3 Gs, 2 As), M Keith Pravato (9 Gs, 3 As)
Senior scoring departing: 200 of 319 points (62.7%)
Senior starts lost: 83 of 170 (48.8%)

Season Summary

The MAAC was not a strong conference in 2018. Nearly any team could win the conference, and that was true with Canisius, the fourth seed in the conference tournament, taking home the conference championship in stunning fashion.

But first, they had to get through the regular season. It was a roller coaster ride for Mark Miyashita in his first year as head coach and it started off on a bad note with a 13-12 loss to Dartmouth in the season opener. But they did have three wins against Binghamton, Furman, and Cleveland State, all of which came within two goals.

After winning three of their first four games, the Golden Griffins would win three games in their final 10 regular season matchups. Prior to edging Siena in their MAAC opener, Canisius got blown out by Colgate and Albany and also suffered a 10-goal loss to Hobart after the Siena win. They stopped the bleeding temporarily by crushing Marist by 11 goals, but would then go on a three-game losing streak against Detroit Mercy, Robert Morris, and Quinnipiac. They did defeat Manhattan to end the losing skid and also clinched a spot in the MAAC Tournament. They ended the regular season with a tough one-goal loss to Monmouth at home, which would be the first of three games decided by a goal.

The MAAC Tournament went the distance in each game and then some. In the semifinals against top-seeded Quinnipiac, the Bobcats took a one-goal lead midway through the final frame before Carter Stefaniak tied things up with 12 seconds left in regulation. Ryan McKee gave the Golden Griffins their first golden goal of the tournament. A couple days later against Detroit Mercy in the championship game, it was McKee and Connor Kearnan who capped off two goals in the final 2:38 of regulation before Mathieu Boissonneault took advantage of a Titan mistake to score with an open net and give Canisius their second golden goal of the long weekend and a MAAC title. The season ended with Robert Morris beating them for a second time in the play-in game.

Nine of Canisius’ 10 mainstay starters started all 17 games. Only senior Blake Rickan started in 15 with junior Trevor Hamm starting in the remaining two. Kearnan, Boissonneault, and McKee were the three starters at attack for the Golden Griffins. Kearnan led the team with 52 assists and 83 points while Boissonneault had a team-high 39 goals. Steven Coss, Stefaniak, and Michael Sanzone were the three starters at midfield, with the senior Coss leading the unit with 53 points. Senior Keith Pravato and junior Mario Caito also saw notable time with the offense.

Defensively, the unit included Rickan, junior Logan Monroe, and sophomore Holden Garlent with sophomore Trevor Hamm getting some time as well. Sophomore LSM Reece Eddy set a program record with 28 caused turnovers and led the Golden Griffins with 85 ground balls. Freshman Jake Hardy also played in all 17 games at close defense and LSM. The shorties were primarily senior Cody Filson and freshman John McCain but some of the offensive midfielders were able to play defense as well. Sophomore Daniel Balawejder went 42.5% from the faceoff X with freshman Tanner Heinchon going 37.6% in 101 draws on the year. Senior Liam Ganzhorn finished his final season with a 44.4% save percentage and a 12.94 goals against average.

Looking Ahead

Certainly Canisius will have to improve if they want to repeat as MAAC champs next season. The MAAC wasn’t a very talented conference to begin with and there hasn’t been a repeat champion since Providence did it in 2006 and 2007 and six different schools won six MAAC titles from 2012 until 2017.

Kearnan and Coss are the biggest losses to the Golden Griffin offense, along with McKee at attack. Guys like Boissonneault, Stefaniak, Sanzone, and Caito will need to pick up the slack in 2019. Rickan was a solid defender this past season and Ganzhorn provided stability in the crease for three seasons. Add to that Reece Eddy transferring to Boston University and Canisius has plenty of work to do in order to defend their crown. Sophomore Cody Haas played in four games last season and is the only returning goalie that played in games last year, with freshman Matt Vavonese not appearing in any. Fortunately former Rutgers goalie Kris Alleyne joins the coaching staff this season.

If Canisius can continue to play quality lacrosse as well as their bench celebrates, they should still be a contender to win a wild open MAAC next year.

Here’s who the Golden Griffins will be adding to their roster for next year.*

Canisius’ Unofficial Class of 2018

Player Position High School
Player Position High School
Mark Allen Midfield Carmel (IN)
Thomas Aniol Attack Plano West (TX)
Raffaele Bagnato Goalie Charlotte Catholic (NC)
Jacob Buck Attack Churchville-Chili (NY)
Kevin Eells Defense/LSM Lewis-Palmer (CO)
Trevor Folsom Midfield/FO St. Joseph's Collegiate (NY)
C.J. Goss Defense/LSM St. Joseph's Collegiate (NY)
Nicholas Guarente Defense Tilton (NH)
Lucca Huggins Midfield IMG Academy (FL)
Jake Lemon Attack/Midfield Tampa Jesuit (FL)
Dylan McNally Midfield/FO Medfield (MA)
Anthony Pezzimenti Midfield Victor (NY)
Ryan Sharkey Defense/LSM Archbishop Stepinac (NY)
Sean Traynor Midfield Valor Christian (CO)
Luke Swaddling Attack St. Edward (OH)

*Compiled from a multitude of websites. Schools usually officially announce their recruiting class during the fall semester.


How many wins will Canisius get in 2019?

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29 votes total Vote Now