Statesman get through slow start for 18-8 win over St. Bonaventure and Penn Yan's Austin Blumbergs, which means they can shift focus to Tuesday's visit from Syracuse and another Penn Yan alumnus
The start of Wednesday’s game was enough to consider the possibility.
But by game’s end, it was a distant thought.
The Hobart Statesmen pulled away from a 1-1 tie with seven straight goals to open the second quarter, and that’s the springboard they used to finish with an 18-8 victory over St. Bonaventure on a clear but chilly night at Urick Stadium.
On paper, it was a classic matchup between institutions steeped in Western New York tradition. Just six years separate the ages of these colleges founded in the 1850s. But when it comes to lacrosse, Hobart has a 121-year head start on the Bonnies, and it showed.
St. Bonaventure is a first-year program and 33 of the 38 players on the roster are freshmen. So while the 1-1 score at the end of the opening quarter offered a pinch of hope, that’s all it was.
“We knew Bonaventure was going to hold the ball a bit and drain the shot clock,” Hobart coach Greg Raymond said. “And it was like all of a sudden, (the first quarter) was over. But these 60-minute games are a long thing and sometimes, it takes a while to get in the groove.”
Before the second quarter was three minutes old, Hobart had a 4-1 lead thanks to the natural hat trick from junior attackman Eric Holden. Three more Hobart goals then made it an 8-1 lead before Bonaventure scored again.
The goal came from freshman midfielder Cian Collins at the 5:07 mark and not only was it Bonaventure’s first goal of the second quarter, it came on the team’s first shot of the quarter. And that kind of gives you an idea of how forcefully the Statesmen took control of the game.
“In the first quarter, we hung with them,” said St. Bonaventure freshman Austin Blumbergs, a Penn Yan graduate. “But then they started to move the ball a bit. They didn’t do too much that we hadn’t gone over, but they just caught us.”
It became a 9-2 game just inside the final minute of the first half when freshman midfielder Derrek Madonna scored the prettiest goal of the game. Taking a feed at the top of the box, Madonna used two face dodges to get through traffic that put him on the doorstep. A stick fake to the left opened the right side of the cage and Madonna’s soft finish capped the jaw-dropping play to the delight of Hobart fans.
The Statesmen scored four of the first five goals to open the third quarter for a 13-4 lead and by now, it was clear as to how the Statesmen were getting it done. End-of-game numbers saw Hobart with a 70-25 advantage in shots, a 46-21 advantage in ground balls and a dominant performance at the X, winning 23 of 30 faceoffs.
The 70 shots are a school record for the Statesmen in their Division I era and while the number wasn’t the goal, it was a byproduct of the offense Raymond and his staff want Hobart to run.
“We want to create as many opportunities as we can,” he said. “In years past at that end of the field, we were maybe gripping our sticks a bit too tight. If you look for it, look for it too hard, it may not come. We want to decide things after the fact (in review and film) instead of thinking about it beforehand.”
In other words, shoot the ball.
It’s an expression of trust for Raymond and it’s not lost on the players.
“It’s awesome, feels great,” said senior attackman Chris Aslanian, who had two goals and one assist and was one of six Hobart players with three or more points. “Coach gives us a lot of freedom ... It’s a fun brand of lacrosse we play.”
As for St. Bonaventure, the record for this season is now 0-8 and the growing pains are obvious. They also were no secret for coach Randy Mearns, the former Rochester Knighthawks captain who also is the coach for Team Canada.
“We’re just trying to get better every day,” he said. “But I’m proud of my guys. They play with a lot of heart ... We’re just looking at all the facets and seeing what we need. A lot of our guys have never been 0-7 before but they knew the challenge coming in.”
Blumbergs certainly did.
“We’ve only been playing together for a few months,” he said. “But we look much better than we did last fall.”
Hobart, meanwhile, is 8-1 and preparing for Tuesday’s big game against Syracuse. Hobart is a ranked lacrosse team (No. 20 in the USILA poll) for the first time since the 2009 season. The Orange are 5-2 and ranked No. 12, setting the stage for a competitive edition of the Kraus-Simmons Trophy. The Orange have won six straight against Hobart.
“You could say we could have looked past St. Bonaventure but we have a mature enough team that the name on the jersey isn’t going to determine how we play,” said Raymond. “We understand how good SU is but we think we’re pretty good too.”