PHILADELPHIA - Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole went 19-for-23 from the X to lead the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad to a 15-7 win over St. Bonaventure in the Hawks' 2019 season opener on Saturday afternoon on Sweeney Field. SJU improves to 1-0 on the season while SBU falls to 0-2.
The rookie was outstanding at the face-off, going 83% in his collegiate debut with 14 ground balls and a first-quarter goal to his name.
"I'm happy with how we did," said Cole following his collegiate debut. "There's always for improvement, but I was happy to see Billy [Jardeleza] and Garrison [Kedda] also come in and taking a couple of draws."
"I'm happy to get a win and happy to be 1-0," said head coach Taylor Wray following the game. "I didn't think we played particularly well today in any facet of the game. It felt very disjointed. Saint Bonaventure played much better than they played a week ago, and we'll need to play much better moving forward in order to win some more games.
Tied 3-3 after the first quarter, Saint Joseph's went on a 6-0, second-quarter run to take a 9-3 advantage into the halftime break. Six different Hawks scored during that run in Vernacchio (8:00), Patterson (7:13), sophomore short stick Jack Anderson (6:53), sophomore attackman Shane Fable (5:31), junior LSM Josh Bosher (4:08), and sophomore midfielder Teo Domic (3:29).
The Bonnies ended their scoring drought on a Cian Collins man-up goal at the 9:02 mark of the third, but SJU tore off three of the next four as Vernacchio (6:38), Domic (5:17), and Patterson (2:33) combined to extend SJU's advantage to seven goals, 12-5, heading into the final minutes of the third quarter.
St. Bonaventure battled back to a five-goal deficit with a pair of goals in the final 46 seconds of the third, but Fable opened the fourth quarter with his second of the day on a feed from Patterson (14:17) and Patterson scored twice more (4:37, 1:22) to close the scoring for the Crimson and Gray.
Junior Liam Hare, making the switch over from LSM to close defense for opening day, recorded three ground balls and four caused turnovers in an outstanding defensive effort.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (1-0) made nine saves vs. seven goals allowed in all but the final 2:23, including four in the fourth quarter. Classmate Tucker Almany came in to make one final save for the Crimson and Gray.
For the game, Saint Joseph's owned a 52-25 shot advantage; the Hawks took 31 shots in the first half alone while the defensive unit of Hare, junior Tyler Makar, and senior Thomas Tarleton held the Bonnies to just six first-half shots.
The Hawks held a 37-24 advantage in ground balls and won a total of 21 of the game's 25 total possessions from the X.
"I thought the face-off game was a strength," added Wray. "But other than that, there were bright spots here and there, but it never really felt like we had great momentum at any part of the game."
Saint Joseph's also forced 23 SBU turnovers, with nine of those coming in the form of failed clears.
Of note, the game is the first Division I men's lacrosse game in NCAA history in which both of the head coaches - SJU head coach Taylor Wray and SBU head coach Randy Mearns - hail from Canada.
The Hawks return to action at Fairfield next Saturday, February 16. Opening face-off is set for 1:00 p.m. in Fairfield, Conn.
Sideline Photos, LLC's photos from this game are available for sale here.