By Chuckie Maggio
The St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team hopes to defend home turf and get their first win of the season Sunday afternoon against Niagara.
The Bonnies lost a tough opening game against nationally-ranked Delaware last Sunday, while Niagara has started the season 1-3. The Purple Eagles played in both the Central New York Classic and the Duquesne Invitational, beating Colgate and losing to Syracuse, Bowling Green and Binghamton.
The 4 p.m. showdown of Big Four rivals promises to be a good one. Who’s got the edge? Let’s break it down.
St. Bonaventure: Mel Mahler. 56-90-18 record as Bonnies coach (10th season).
Niagara: Eric Barnes. 5-12-1 as Purple Eagles coach (2nd season).
Key players for Bonaventure:
Garrett Pasono- senior defender. Pasono’s Bonaventure career and importance to this team have been well-documented by our site. He’s the anchor of this defense, with a little goal-scoring ability as well. Against a Niagara team that has been shutout in three of its first four games, look for Pasono and the defense to come up big today.
Nicholas Perillo- senior forward. After the Bonnies failed to score against the Blue Hens, Perillo and the forwards will look to execute this time around. The 6’1 education major scored seven goals in 2013 and will be looking to put his first of this season into the back of the net.
Bonaventure Akinlosotu- redshirt freshman defender. After redshirting last season, the 6-3 defender from Bowie, Maryland has already earned a spot in the starting 11. Akinlosotu’s size and strength make him a player to watch on this Bonnies’ squad.
Jeremy Figler- redshirt senior goalkeeper. With talented defenders in front of him, Figler will be the last line of defense. He had a solid 2013, with 80 saves. After a tough game against Delaware, Figler will look to rebound.
Key players for Niagara:
Callum Willmott- senior forward. Willmott, who stands 6-6, has scored the Purple Eagles’ two lone goals so far this season. The striker from Iver, England has a powerful shot and is elusive on the field, giving the Bonnies a definite challenge on Sunday.
Andrew and Matthew Ferguson- Junior and sophomore midfielder/defenders, respectfully. Niagara’s brothers have played key roles in the early going. Andrew, a transfer from Marshall University, brings goal-scoring ability and has registered seven shots thus far. Matthew is a strong defender who has also played in all three games so far. For the Purple Eagles to win, the Fergusons are going to have to come up big.
Keys to victory:
St. Bonaventure: Contain Willmott and take advantage of Niagara’s collectively shaky defense.
Niagara: Utilize the counter-attack and try to control the tempo.
The Prediction: 2-0 Bonnies. Bonaventure will shoot early and often, overpowering the Purple Eagles en route to a convincing victory.