Canisius men's lacrosse starts a new era Saturday. The Golden Griffins play Dartmouth on the road at 1 p.m., the first game under head coach Mark Miyashita.
It'll be strange for many to see anyone but Randy Mearns directing the Golden Griffin sideline. The Canisius alum left his alma mater in June after 19 years as the head coach to build a new program at St. Bonaventure.
Like Mearns, Miyashita was a star on the field for Canisius. He ranks in the top ten in program history in assists and points and top 15 in goals. He was the first pick in the 2003 National Lacrosse League Draft and went on to play five seasons in the league with Vancouver, Colorado and Minnesota.
He's spent the past four years as an assistant coach with Sacred Heart, helping the Pioneers build an offense ranked second in the Northeast Conference.
Expectations aren't high in his inaugural campaign on Main Street. Canisius was picked sixth in the seven-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, only ahead of Manhattan. However, with a talent like Connor Kearnan, there's always a chance to surprise. The junior attackman was the MAAC's co-Offensive Player of the Year last season, totaling 35 goals and 24 assists in 15 games. He's a first-team All-MAAC preseason member and was Inside Lacrosse's MAAC Player of the Year favorite in its Faceoff Yearbook issue.
The Canisius women are also dealing with new management after Scott Teeter left for Louisville in November after 12 years as the Golden Griffins head coach.
The Golden Griffins coaching change was unusual in its lateness, caused by the Louisville job opening unexpectedly in November when former Cardinals coach Kellie Young was fired due to allegations of negligence.
Allison Daley was hired to replace Teeter at the start of January, limiting her window with the team before the season began. The former Canisius goalie spent time as an assistant with Binghamton and Delaware.
Despite the change, the Golden Griffins were picked to win the MAAC, receiving eight of nine first-place votes.
The Griffs fell last weekend in Daley's first game at the helm, an 18-7 loss at the hands of No. 9 Northwestern. They're back in action on Sunday at Michigan.
St. Bonaventure women's lacrosse also lost last weekend, 18-5, to Lehigh. The Bonnies' home opener is Tuesday against Vermont.
Niagara women's lacrosse, fresh off two straight five-win MAAC seasons, kicks off the 2018 campaign at home Saturday with a 1 p.m. matchup with Binghamton. Wendy Stone's squad was picked fourth out of nine schools in the preseason MAAC coaches' poll.
The Purple Eagles are led by a pair of unanimous Preseason All-MAAC first-team selections, attacker Rachel MacCheyne and defender Alexandra Higgins.
Connor Fields, a Bishop Timon graduate, also opens his season Saturday with No. 4 Albany. The Great Danes face No. 7 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome at 2 p.m. on the ACC Network. Fields was one of five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award last season, given to the top player in college lacrosse.