Syracuse lacrosse tops St. Bonaventure in first-ever meeting

SU men's LAX tops St. Bonaventure 22-6

Goals from 14 different SU players help the Orange's record surpass the .500 mark again.
Published: March 21, 2023 | Updated: March 22nd, 2023 at 2:59 pm
Blake Erlbeck (#83) backhands a shot.
Syracuse's Blake Erlbeck (83) backhands a shot toward the goal during a men's lacrosse game against St. Bonaventure on March 21 at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse men’s lacrosse (5-4) thrashed St. Bonaventure (1-7) in the teams’ first-ever meeting, as 14 different goal scorers and eight assisters ran up the scoreline in the Orange’s favor. 

In a game that seemed tight on paper, with similar shot totals, ground balls and face offs, the Orange won convincingly 22-6. Syracuse came alive in the third period, going on a 9-0 run and allowing head coach Gary Gait to give the bulk of the team efficient minutes off the bench in the second half. 

“We got to go deep in the lineup,” Gait said. “All of the guys who got opportunities in that second half stepped up and did a nice job.”

The Orange started off flying, with Alex Simmons scoring his ninth goal of the season inside the opening minute. Both teams’ goalies, the Orange’s Will Mark and the Bonnies’ Cristofero Cucciuffo, went back-and-forth making saves.

Patrick Carpenter scored his fourth of the season, a rocket off an assist from Jake Rosa with 10 minutes to go to tie it for St. Bonaventure. The Orange pressure didn’t let off, forcing another save from Cucciuffo and goals from Jackson Birtwistle, Finn Thomson and Griffin Cook. Freshman Joey Spallina recorded his first assist of the game. 

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Syracuse's Caelin Lewis (15) passes the ball forward as St. Bonaventure's Brady Wijbrandts (19) attempts to block the pass.

SU opened the scoring early in the first period, but St. Bonaventure closed it late. Joey Paterno gave the Bonnies a lifeline with a late goal assisted by Josh Rosa with just 12 seconds to go, ending the first period down 4-2. 

The second period was much stronger for the Orange. Cook’s second goal of the game gave the Orange their three-goal lead back. Owen Hiltz extended the lead further at the half, scoring twice. Freshman midfielder Luke Rhoa got himself a goal, and Spallina his second assist. 

“A lot of credit to my teammates,” Spallina said. “They were getting open for me, I was finding them and they were finding me.”

In the second period, the Orange defense held their opponents to just one goal despite the offense barely outshooting the Bonnies, 10-9. Mark Belles’ goal for the Bonnies put them on the scoreboard in the period, which ended 8-3.  

The Orange’s attack was hungry in the third period, scoring nine times. The defense, and Mark’s three saves, kept the Bonnies out of reach. Max Rosa’s first goal of the season came off a swift team move from the Orange that started with a save from Will Mark, a bursting counterattack and an assist from Cole Kirst.

From there, the Orange seemingly made every shot they took. Spallina scored a goal and tallied two assists. Simmons got his second and third goals of the game, Rhoa got his second, and Birtwistle and Carter Kempney both added one. Hiltz got his third goal and first assist of the game, and John Cohen got his first goal of the season and two assists. 

“We’re all developing. This is a fairly new squad and a lot of different faces from last year,” Gait said. “It’s really about developing chemistry.”

The Orange saw the game all the way through to the final period. Spallina got his second goal of the night and Blake Erlbeck his first. Tyler Cordes, Jack Fine and Pete Fiorini all got their first goals of the season. St. Bonaventure scored three in the period from Kyle Pepper, Tage Hoeg and Carpenter. 

Syracuse’s emphatic third period buried St. Bonaventure, despite Syracuse slightly outshooting the Bonnies, 39-37. The Orange’s 14 different scorers, five of whom scored their first of the season, and relentless scoring made the difference. 

“This year’s team is definitely been really unselfish,” Cook said. “Everybody just wants everybody else to do really well. We don’t really care who scores.”

The Orange have won back-to-back games and are back in action on Saturday at 1 p.m., when they’ll take on Hobart (4-3) at the JMA Wireless Dome.

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Syracuse's Cole Kirst (40) whips the ball forward.