By Matthew Strauss
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies take on the St. Francis University Red Flash in Loretto, Pa this afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2 in this matchup of Franciscan schools. This will be the final non-conference game for each squad.
St. Francis enters today’s matchup with a stellar 7-2-1 record, which has been good enough to earn them six votes in the national poll. The Bonnies and the Red Flash have three common opponents: Canisius, Niagara and Howard. St. Francis is 3-0 against those three schools, while the Bonnies are a respectable 2-1. The Bonnies fell to Canisius, whom the Red Flash beat handily 4-1 in their second game of the year. The Red Flash are also coming off a big double overtime win against Penn State, the defending Big-10 Champions.
St. Francis will be difficult to wear down at the back. The Red Flash are very stingy defensively, having given up only five goals in their first ten matches. St. Francis has never given up more than one goal in a single game, and they have racked up five shutouts so far in the 2013 season. Offensively, St. Francis works through senior midfielder Nick Kolarac. Kolarac leads the team with 15 points, including seven goals. Kolarac will be the main focus of the Bonnies back four, as they try to contain him and make sure his opportunities to create are limited.
St. Francis has a rather geographically diverse roster. Only nine of the 29 players on the roster are from Pennsylvania. They also have eight international players, hailing from seven different countries including Benin, New Zealand, Serbia, and Nicaragua.
The Bonnies will continue to look for production from their trio of seniors: Brad Vanino, Emmett O’Connor and Nick Perillo. St. Bonaventure as a team has totaled 18 goals and 18 assists so far in the 2013 season. Vanino, O’Connor and Perillo have combined for 10 of those goals and 13 of those assists. O’Connor and Perillo are tied for the team lead with four goals apiece, while Vanino and O’Connor hold the team lead with five assists each.
If St. Bonaventure is to be successful this afternoon, they will need their trio of seniors to step up once again. The Bonnies have been fantastic offensively this season, and they may be facing their greatest defensive challenge of the year so far today. Bonaventure would love a victory over a nationally recognized team. It would be the ideal end to their non-conference season and give them a great burst of momentum heading into the Atlantic-10 season, which kicks off next week in Philadelphia for the Bonnies, with matchups against St. Joseph’s and La Salle.