By Matthew Strauss
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies Men’s Soccer team opened up the 2013 campaign with a 3-1 victory over in-state rival University of Buffalo. The Bonnies and the Bulls faced off in front of a good crowd in the Bonnies’ home opener at McGraw-Jennings Field.
Buffalo had a couple of good chances in the first 20 minutes. Bonaventure goalkeeper Jeremy Figler came up big on both occasions. The first was a one-on-one opportunity for UB’s Kristian Lee-Him from the right side of the box, which Figler attacked and stopped. The second was a shot from about 14 yards out from UB’s Braden Culver, which Figler dove to put out of play for a corner.
The Bonnies then took control, and put their first goal away at the 27 minute mark. All-Atlantic 10 preseason choice Emmett O’Connor took the ball all the way to the end line and slotted it back for Nicholas Perrillo to slam into the back of the net. The second Bonaventure goal came three minutes later, when Brad Beaumont put the ball away on his first touch of the game. O’Connor got the ball into the box and tapped it past UB’s keeper, and the substitute Beaumont finished it off.
Figler made another big save in the 36th minute on UB’s Russell Cicerone. Bonaventure also had another opportunity in the 43rd minute off of a cross from Garrett Pasono, but Beaumont’s header went just wide. The Bonnies went into the half with a 2-0 lead.
Other than a pair of goals, the second half was much less eventful. In the 56th minute, Emmett O’Connor added a goal to his pair of assists, by finishing a bouncing ball off of Brad Vanino’s corner kick. UB got one back five minutes later, when Russell Cicerone used the help of a deflection to bury a shot from the left side of the box.
After the UB goal, the Bonnies took a forward off the field and settled into a 5-4-1 formation. Coach Mel Mahler used three different lone strikers in the last half hour to heckle the UB defense. The Bonnies sat back with ten men behind the ball for the rest of the game. Even in a defensive formation, Bonaventure had more opportunities late. In the 88th minute, Vanino’s breakaway attempt on the right side was stopped by the UB keeper, and Figler came up big on the other end as UB countered off of Vanino’s miss.
St. Bonaventure closed out a solid opening win after that. The Bonnies are next in action on Sunday when they face Little 3 rival Niagara in Lewiston, N.Y.