Over the next several weeks, the Rochester Knighthawks will be front and center on the local high school lacrosse scene as part of a new weekly series that will feature the latest news and notes, scores and stats of select games around the Greater Rochester Area.
This week’s High School Game of the Week features top-ranked Canandaigua Academy looking to stay unbeaten against the Fairport Raiders in boy’s lacrosse action on Friday.
The Braves of Canandaigua come into Friday’s matchup having won 14 of their last 15 games dating back to the 2019 season. Sitting at 8-0 to start this season, Canandaigua is currently tied with Penn Yan, Spencerport and Webster Thomas for the best record among all Section V teams and are one of just five programs to remain unbeaten in 2021.
The Braves, who are eyeing their first Section V championship (Class B) since 2013, have one of the most dynamic and well-balanced offenses in the league led by senior attackman Sam Bennett. An All-League Honorable Mention selection in 2019, Bennett leads Canandaigua Academy in all offensive categories in goals (25), assists (7) and points (32) in eight games this season. After being held without a goal in the Braves’ 12-3 season-opening win over Geneva, Bennett has found the back of the net at least once in every game since, averaging just over three goals per game. He’s recorded a hat trick or more in each of his last five games, including a season-high six-goal effort in the 11-2 win over Pittsford most recently.
Bennett is on pace to become Canandaigua’s first All-American since Devin Andrews in 2017. Andrews, one of the most prolific scorers in recent Section V history, finished the 2017 season with an astounding 119 points on 72 goals and 47 assists before moving onto LeMoyne.
As a team, the Braves have outscored their opponents 58-21 this season, including 22-2 in the first quarter, and are averaging 10.25 goals-per-game.
Canandaigua is just as strong defensively, limiting its opposition to just five first-half goals this season. The Braves have used three goaltenders with sophomore Jack Faiola carrying much of the workload in net. Faiola has allowed only 19 goals-against through 315 minutes played, good for a league-best .750 save percentage. He’s also made 57 of the team’s 72 saves among the trio of netminders.
Notable Canandaigua Academy boy’s lacrosse alumni include Devin Andrews (Le Moyne) – Jared Bardeen (Roberts Wesleyan) – Mark Belles (St Bonaventure) – Alex Burley (Potsdam) – Michael Cichetti (St John Fisher) – Joe Disalvo (SUNY Cobleskill) – Tyler Goode (GCC) – Aiden Kenyon (Oswego) – Casey McKenna (Alfred) – Brandon Moore (St John Fisher) – Chase Morgan (Gettysburg) – Roger Panara (St John Fisher) – Mitch Pfeiffer (Richmond) – Joe Post (St John Fisher) – Henry Reber (Potsdam) – Mitchell Schaefer (Penn State) – Joey Urlacher (St John Fisher) – Will York (Keuka).
Fairport, meanwhile, comes into the matchup having won two straight and three of its last five following a 14-8 win over Rush-Henrietta on Wednesday. The Raiders held a 4-1 lead entering halftime before outscoring the Comets 6-0 in the third quarter to improve to 4-3 on the season.
Arguably one of the top teams in Section V in recent years, Fairport has claimed the Class A crown four times since 2010 with its most recent title coming in 2019 when the Raiders went 17-3 in one of the memorable seasons in program history. Fairport’s only losses that year came in the season-opener and season-finale while a narrow 9-8 setback to Hilton midseason separated win streaks of seven and 10 games, respectively.
The Raiders return two key pieces from their 2019 Section V championship team in senior midfielder and reigning Democrat and Chronicle All-Greater Rochester Honorable Mention and Section V Class A All-Tournament Team selection Rob Crowley as well as senior defenseman Connor Fundis. As a sophomore in 2019, Crowley scored 16 goals and added four assists for 20 points.
This year, however, sophomore Jackson Monte as emerged as the team’s early scoring leader with 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points. Monte comes into the matchup showing 10 goals in his last five games, including a season-high four-goal effort at Penfield, and hasn’t gone one game all season without recording at least one point.
Similar to Canandaigua, the Raiders have dominated the opposition in the first quarter this season, outscoring their opponents 20-9 through the opening frame and 66-51 overall on the season.
Fairport has produced some of the area’s top lacrosse talent over the past several decades, ranging from Tim Soudan in 1986 to Blaze Riorden in 2012, and most recently, Reese Burek in 2018. Soudan has been synonymous with the local lacrosse scene and his contributions to the game are considered by many to be immeasurable.
After leaving Fairport as a US Lacrosse All-American, Soudan went on to the University of Massachusetts, where he would set the program record for goals by a midfielder with 84, earning All-American honors yet again. UMass was 41-14 over his four years with the program and advanced to the NCAA tournament each year.
That paved away for his entry into the National Lacrosse League, first with the New England Blazers in 1991 before an 11-year stay with the previous Rochester Knighthawks franchise beginning in 1995. Soudan, who was the first-ever Rochester native to play for the team, helped the Knighthawks to the 1997 MILL Championship and was a key component in the team’s string of 11 consecutive playoff appearances.
He also played three seasons in Major League Lacrosse with the former Rochester Rattlers, joining the team for the league’s inaugural season in 2001. He totaled 44 points (35+9) in 32 games before returning in June of 2011 to serve as head coach. Soudan would be named the MLL’s Coach of the Year in 2014.
Soudan is also a three-time gold-medal winner on the international scene, twice winning the World Lacrosse Championship with the United States in 1994 and 1998 before helping the Americans defeat Team Canada in the 2002 Heritage Cup.
He currently serves as the head coach of the Chrome Lacrosse Club of the Premier Lacrosse League.
Riorden, like Soudan, has made a name for himself in both field and box lacrosse. Considered one of the top goaltenders in the PLL, Riorden led Chaos to an appearance in the 2020 PLL Championship Series, posting a league-high 119 saves on his way to earning the Oren Lyons Goalie of the Tournament Award. During the regular season, he led all netminders with a .558 save percentage and 153 saves to, earning him Goalie of the Year honors.
He’s also a member of the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League, where he plays as a forward.
Prior to turning pro, Riorden played his college lacrosse at the University of Albany, where he was named an All-American and was the America East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He graduated as the program’s Division I all-time leader in saves with 849 and was later drafted 51st overall by the former Rochester Rattlers in the Major League Lacrosse Entry Draft.
Burek, a 2018 US Lacrosse All-American selection, scored 21 goals and ranked third among all Fairport scorers with 34 points as a senior. Burek, who also played hockey at Fairport, is currently a sophomore at Army West Point and is a member of the Black Knights lacrosse program.
Other notable Fairport boy’s alumni include John Bartolotto (Baldwin Wallace) – Spencer Bell (RIT) – Reese Burek (USMA) – Noah Cakir (MCC) – Ryan Derion (Potsdam) – Josh Gangarossa (MCC) – Mason Gasbarre (St John Fisher) – Cameron Gebhardt (RIT) – Kody Gould (Wittenberg) – TJ Hendricks (Ohio State) – Kole Herren (RIT) – Gavin Ingalls (Mercyhurst) – Michael Kozar (Albany) – Nick Krug (Delaware) – Jacob Mueller (MCC) – Alex Nicastro (Mercyhurst) – Dylan Orcutt (Buffalo) – Colin Peers (Cortland) – Jahadi Prior (Brockport) – Tanner Soudan (UMass Lowell).