By Chuckie Maggio, @ChuckieMaggio
This summer has marked the start of a new era for St. Bonaventure soccer. A $2 million fields project means the men’s and women’s teams will play on a new turf surface this fall, fully equipped with lights for night games and a drainage system that ensures that they will be able to practice where they play in 2014.
On that field, the Bonnies women’s soccer team will be hoping to build on a successful 2013 season where they made the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Bonaventure has qualified for the A-10’s six years in a row, a streak matched only by the Dayton Flyers.
There is perhaps no man more excited for soccer season than Steve Brdarski, head coach of the Bonnies. I talked with coach Brdarski about the fields project, the team, the upcoming season and his World Cup prediction.
Q: The fields project is now a reality. What does it mean to you to have a turf field for this fall? How much of an advantage is it going to give your team?
A: I am very excited for many reasons in regards to our new field. The most important part to the project is that it was put together through the support of many individual families and friends that believed in the cause. The athletic department had the vision and drive, but without the many great people that stepped up to donate we would not be where we are today. I am also very happy for our team that they will have the honor to be the first to play on the new field. I think our girls understand that many alumni would like to be in their shoes, and I think our girls will respect and play for all the past players, coaches, and students. As for an advantage, being able to train where you play is a very big advantage. We will know every inch of that field because of the opportunity to train on it. I think once we figure the speed of the field we will be able to adapt our playing style, and I think it will allow us to do more technically and tactically. Lastly, I think this is a great project for our local community and will benefit the local kids of Olean and Allegany.
Q: You’re going into your second season as Bonnies coach. How much more confidence do you have this summer than last?
A: I would consider this upcoming season to be one of renewed confidence. I think we graduated a great senior class and they had a big impact over their four years. That being said, I think everyone has been focused on this upcoming fall. The new field will help make things easier because we don’t have to worry about whether a game will be played or not. I think having a full year to work with the returning players has helped to develop our team more and workon many different things. I think in regards to the relationship between myself and the returning players, we know each other much better and we have more experience working together. I am excited to see the group together, working towards becoming an amazing team.
Q: You welcome eight incoming freshmen to the team for the 2014 season. What role do you anticipate them having this fall?
A: I think each one of the new players was recruited for a particular reason and will help the team in some capacity. We have a class of great people, students, and soccer players. I am proud of who they are and I think they fit the common theme of every past and present Bonnie in that they will work hard all the time. I expect this group to help make practices harder, games easier, and to add to the team chemistry we will look to develop. It’s a big group and we have very high expectations.
Q: Three of your top scorers are back. What will be expected of Molly (Curry), Brittany (Charles) and Lauren (Hill) this season?
A: I think you have mentioned three great players, leaders, and individuals. My opinion on each is that they are all very different of each other. I think that what helps to make our team so dangerous is that we use the strengths of each player. When they compliment each other like Molly, Brittany and Lauren do, it’s very hard to defend. However, I believe the way these three players play within the team is the biggest asset. We have a good group and they play for each other and don’t care who gets the credit. My expectation is that they will lead their team through their work ethic, attitude, passion, and drive to be successful. I think they can build on last year, but we have to be a team playing as one.
Q: How would you analyze the schedule this year? How difficult is it?
A: I think the schedule has good balance and gives different challenges to get us ready for our conference schedule. Every game is a game we can win or lose. Every game we play will mean something and I think that mentality will help us in conference play. We learned some tough lessons last year in the beginning of our schedule and in conference play. I hope we will be ready to play every game with the same excitement and energy that we ended the season with. I hope that we will be mentally stronger on the road and find ways to win.
Q: If you could pinpoint one focus in pre-season training, what would it be?
A: Team Chemistry. Team chemistry is everything in sports and we need to have a group that is focused on the team. It’s an easy thing to say, but when you have it it makes you impossible to beat. We have to get our new players introduced to the group and ready to contribute from Day 1. That is very hard to do so quickly, but that will be our job as a staff and the job of the leaders of the team to make sure it happens. I’m very excited for pre-season and to see this team together.
Q: Does this team have a legitimate chance at an A-10 Tournament this year?
A: When I first read this question, I started thinking of Jurgen Klinsmann and his recent comments saying it is realistically impossible for the USA to win the World Cup. I would consider myself the opposite of him; I would say that if you can’t win with your team, you either should not be coaching them or you picked the wrong players. I am excited to coach this team, and I think we have the right pieces. Our job will be to work every day to get those parts playing together for our school. I think we have an advantage that most teams don’t have in the Atlantic 10 and that is our pride, tradition, parents and alumni of our school. We have great people associated with us who inspire us everyday to be great. I also think we have enough faith, skill, work ethic, and desire to win this conference. That being said, I go back to an important lesson (strength and conditioning) Coach (Darryn) Fiske taught us and that is that we need to win our semifinal game first. We can’t be thinking of the A-10 finals in September and October- we have to take every game one step at a time and pour our focus and energy into it. We can’t think ahead and we must think about being the best we can be every moment. Jurgen Klinsmann said it would take 7 perfect games for the US to maybe win. I don’t think we need to be perfect we just need to be Bonnies every game and that is enough to win.
Q: World Cup: What’s your prediction?
A: Only three people have silenced the stadium of Maracanã (stadium for the World Cup Final): Frank Sinatra, The Pope, and Alcides Ghiggia (Scored vs Brazil in 1950 World Cup Final). I think history will be re-written and there will be a fourth- Lionel Messi. I think it’s his time to shine and I think Argentina will deliver in South America.
There you have it-. Coach Steve is going with Argentina in Brazil. The Bonnies kick off the 2014 season on August 22 at Buffalo before playing their first game on the new turf on August 24 at 1 pm vs Kent State.