Canisius vs. Vmi
May 4, 2008
The Game Story:
Loudonville, N.Y. – The Canisius College men’s lacrosse team won its first MAAC Championship with a convincing 14-5 victory over VMI. With the title, Canisius advances to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the first time in school history.

“We just played so well as a team,” said Canisius head coach Randy Mearns. “We executed and our transition was there. Both Chris Courteau and Michael Ferranti were fantastic today. I am so proud of these guys. What a thrill it is to reach this stage. Nothing is over and now we have a chance to continue to make history. I couldn’t be more proud of the players and coaching staff. It is a great experience and hopefully we can continue it next weekend.”

The Canisius defense once again led the Griffs to the victory. Senior Chris Courteau recorded six saves and was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player. During the weekend, Courteau recorded a goals against average of 2.57 and a save percentage of .762. Senior Michael Ferranti joined Courteau on the All-Tournament Team after shutting down VMI’s top scorer and MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, Kevin Hill. Hill did not record one goal and was forced into five turnovers.

Freshman Adam Jones and senior captain Matt Hajek were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Jones led the Griffs with five points and matched a career best with four goals. Hajek won 11-of-18 faceoffs and led the team with seven ground balls.

Sophomore John Minieri recorded a career-best four points and matched a personal high with three goals. Senior Michael Blocho also recorded a hat trick, while senior Tom Hensel, junior Justin Rychlicki plus sophomores Michael Benzinger and Alex Caldiero each added a goal. Hensel and freshman Nick LoCoco paced the Griffs attack with two assists apiece.

The Keydets tallied the first goal of the championship, scoring 9:18 into the contest. However, Jones would score his first two goals of the game in 1:41 span to give the Griffs their first advantage. He netted his first goal when picking up a rebound from a Minieri shot and quickly finding the back of the cage. LoCoco then found Jones open in front of the net on an extra-man opportunity to give Canisius its first lead of the day. VMI responded with an extra-man goal of its own to knot the game at two at the end of the first period.

The Griffs opened the second period with two quick scores to reclaim its lead. Minieri tallied his first goal of the championship 1:01 into the period off a feed from Jones. Caldiero then netted an unassisted goal with 10:22 left in the half to give Canisius a 4-2 advantage. Neither team was able to tally another goal for the remainder of the half.

Canisius dominated the third period with the offense finding its grove and the defense continuing to shut down the VMI attack. Minieri opened the scoring with a goal 4:58 into the second half and was followed with goals by Benzinger, Blocho, Jones and Blocho again. Hensel capped the period by scoring his first goal of the day with just four seconds left in the third as the two teams headed into the final stanza with Canisius leading, 10-2.

The Griffs continued to add to its lead throughout the final frame. Minieri and Jones each added a goal before the Keydets finally got on the scoreboard with an extra-man goal. Rychlicki then added his first goal of the championship and the Keydets scored two goals in the closing minutes en route to the 14-5 victory.

Canisius outshot the Keydets, 31-22, and held a 38-28 advantage in ground balls. Jacob Weimer led VMI with four points on two goals and two assists, while Sean McCoy recorded six saves in goal.

The Griffs find out their opponent in the NCAA First Round tonight when the brackets are revealed live at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.

Game Notes: The Canisius defense shut out the VMI offense for 35:27 when the Griffs outscored the Keydets, 10-0 … The nine goal margin of victory was the second-highest in MAAC Championship history … Saint Joseph’s defeated Manhattan, 17-7 in the inaugural championship in 2000 … All six of Minieri’s goals this season were against VMI … Jones has tallied 10 hat trick for the Griffs during his rookie season, the most by a Canisius player since the 1990 season … The Griffs are now 2-4 all-time in postseason games … Canisius has won its last seven games away from the Demske Sports Complex … Blocho moved into 11th place in the Griffs’ record book with 115 career points. He passed Ryan Ferraro, who recorded 113 points from 1996 to 1999 … Canisius has won its last 17 games when holding the opponent under 10 goals … The Griffs added to their school record with their 10th win of the season.