Golden Griffins spoil Bonas homecoming

By Isaiah Blakely @IsaiahBlakely3

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies fell to its rival Canisius Golden Griffins, 2-0 on a chilly Friday night in its first home matchup at Marra Athletics Field Complex.

The first-half featured back and forth chances for both teams starting with Bona captain Paul Afful putting a free kick just over the goal.

Moments later the Golden Griffins missed a golden opportunity when midfielder Melvin Blair shot wide from about six yards out. They continued the pressure when midfielder Evan Walsh half-volleyed from inside the box, but shot over the goal.

The Golden Griffins came out in the second half with most of the scoring opportunities including forward Hakeem Milson putting a shot over the bar inside the penalty area. In the 57th minute, the scoring drought gave way as Alex Grattarola scored a header off a corner kick giving the Golden Grifffins a 1-0 lead.

The Bonnies tried to answer back with pressure of their own when Afful put a stingy shot on goal that was saved by Griffins’ goalie Marco Trivellato.

Bonnies goalie Luke Iacobellis made one of his seven saves on a Canisius counter attack to keep the Bonnies just one goal down.

Seconds later, after Iacobellis’s save, the Golden Griffins scored again off a corner kick from forward Filippo Tamburini.

The Bonnies couldn’t generate anymore offense losing 2-0.

Bonnies coach Kwame Oduro stressed the need to work on set pieces.

“Their two goals came from set pieces,” Oduro said. “If we take care of that, hey, it can be the difference.”

To get back on track, Oduro said the Bonnies needed to start scoring some goals as they only have two goals in their last three contests.

“We are too static in our movement,” Oduro said. “We have to start creating more dangerous chances in front of goal.”

Bonaventure continues to look for their first home win of the season Sunday at 1:00 against Albany.

Men’s soccer: Bonnies battle to scoreless draw with Binghamton

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20

On an unusually cold September night, the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team fought to a scoreless draw with visiting Binghamton Wednesday night.

Each team would have its chances early on, but the Bonnies (1-8-1) threatened first when Jimmy Barrios took a shot just inside the 18 off a Kieran Toland pass. The Bearcats (5-4-1) would respond in the 13th minute of action when Zach Galluzzo fired a shot inside the box, but Bonnies goalkeeper Bobby Diaz was there to make the save.

While maintaining possession continued to be an issue for the Bonnies’ offense, their defense held its shape and cleared the ball with a purpose.

“Defensively this game was a lot better,” said sophomore Kieran Toland. “We kept our shape well and moved the ball around better.”

Improving the defense has been coach Kwame Oduro’s main focus this season, but the Bonnies look uneasy on the offensive side of the ball.

“(Offensive possession) is getting better with every game,” said Toland. “We just need to get a finishing touch. We work the ball up and get crosses, but nothing is ever there.”

In the second half, St. Bonaventure’s best opportunity came from Barrios and Kosi Nwafornso. The freshman sailed a header 10 yards wide of the net off the senior midfielders cross.

Binghamton nearly scored with 40 seconds left in the second overtime period when Alex Varkatzas put a shot on net, but Diaz was able to punch the ball up and over the crossbar. The redshirt senior finished with four stops on the night and is currently leading the Atlantic 10 in saves.

The Bonnies will be back in action on Saturday night at home as they take on rival Buffalo in their last non-conference match up of the season.

Men’s soccer: New journey begins for Oduro, Bonnies

By Katie Faulkner

With the official start of the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer season looming, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the ability and mental toughness of this team.

With a 1-15 record last year, the Bonnies needed to make changes throughout the entire program. Although they did not win a conference match last season, the addition of eight freshmen and five transfers has the community feeling hopeful.  However, the athletes aren’t the only fresh faces.

After 10 years and a steady streak of disappointing seasons with the Bonnies, Mel Maher resigned from his head coaching position. The St. Bonaventure staff knew it would take a unique individual to step in and create an immediate impact.

From West Africa to Western New York, the Bonnies found their coach in Kwame Oduro. Appointed as only the seventh coach in program history, Oduro seized this opportunity for the chance to follow his dreams and better his young family.

Over the past four years, the Ghana native served as the assistant coach at Canisius College. During his time under head coach Dermot McGrane, Oduro helped the Golden Griffins set a school record for wins in a season. In addition to his obligations at Canisius, Oduro is also the coach for the New England Revolution Empire Youth Club team.  During his time there, he has led them to two state cup championships.

Oduro is stepping into similar circumstances at Bonaventure as he was when he entered Canisius and its struggling program. However, he has not let he difficult task at hand deter him from his main objective- to win more games.

Humble, quiet and pragmatic, Oduro placed his primary point of importance on the simple notion of hard work.

“It’s going to take a lot of guts, a lot of hard work and perseverance,” said Oduro on what it will take to be competitive in the A-10 this season. “We need to dig deep and fight through adversity.”

As of right now, the Bonnies’ leading weakness is the failure to block out errors and remain mentally resilient throughout the duration of the game.

How does Oduro plan to combat that?  His leaders must step up.

After a long pause and a heavy sigh, Oduro stressed the importance of leaving the past in the rearview mirror.  “I need my leaders to stay positive. Over the years there has been a lot of negativity on this team and I need them to step up and be positive now.”

Of the Bonnies’ 15 losses last season, 12 of them were shutouts. Overall, they took 146 shots and only six of those were goals. They averaged 9.1 shots per game and only recorded a total of four assists on the year.

“I’m not worried about the shots on goal,” said Oduro.  “I’m worried about the goals we score.

Optimism is one thing, but what will it take for the Bonnies to execute this season?

“The main focus this preseason has been defending,” said the former Niagara University MVP.  “We’re trying to cut down on goals allowed in order to get more opportunity on the offensive end.”

Not only must the players rise above adversity on the field, they are also expected to succeed in the classroom.  With an impressive resume himself, coach Oduro does not take school lightly. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Niagara in 2007.  He received MAAC All-Academic Team honors, while also earning a place on the 2005 ESPN The Magazine All-District Second Team. Oduro also obtained a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Nyack College and sports administration from Canisius.

“I don’t mess around with school,” said Oduro.  “If you don’t do well in the classroom, then I don’t trust you can do well on the field.”

Things are already looking up for the Bonnies, as they beat NJIT last night in a stunning 2-1 victory.  Kieran Toland netted both goals, the second coming with just seconds left in the first overtime period.  He also controlled the midfield, something they lacked last season.  Bobby Diaz recorded eight saves in the net, but what really stood out was the redshirt senior’s vocal leadership and constant encouragement.

“We still got a long way to go, but they are putting the effort in,” said the first-year head coach.

The Bonnies take on Hartwick on Monday with a chance to improve their record to 2-0, which would already be an improvement from last season.

New season.  New coach.  New expectations.



Preview: #Bonnies men take on Duquesne Saturday

By Matt Strauss 

The St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team makes their second trip to Duquesne University this season.  This time they will play their Atlantic 10 travel partner, the Dukes.  It will be each team’s third Atlantic 10 matchup of the season.  Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

The Bonnies and the Dukes were both in Philadelphia last weekend for games against St. Joseph’s and La Salle.  Both Duquesne and Bonaventure beat St. Joe’s, but lost to the Explorers of La Salle.  Duquesne opened up with La Salle on Friday night, which ended in a 3-1 loss.  They turned it around quickly by beating the Hawks 3-0 on Sunday afternoon.  Duquesne and the Bonnies have two other common opponents: Howard and Incarnate Word.  Both of those schools came to the Duquesne Invitational earlier in the year.  Duquesne won both of those games in 1-0 shutout fashion.  The Bonnies outscored both schools by a combined 7-2 in the same weekend.

Duquesne enters the game with a 6-5 record overall, including a perfect 4-0 record at home this season.  They have scored 13 goals and given up 11 goals through 11 games this year.  Their leading producer is Swedish junior Josh Ellis.  He has started only once this season, and adds valuable depth coming off the bench.  He leads the team in points with seven, coming from three goals and an assist.

However, the strength of Duquesne is at the back.  Although they have given up 11 goals so far this season, they have yet to give up a goal in a win yet this season.  All six Duquesne wins have been shutouts.  In wins this year, the Dukes have outscored their opponents 10-0.  Oppositely, in losses, they have been outscored 11-3.  The key for the Bonnies will be to find their way on to the scoreboard as early as possible to add pressure to the home team.

The Bonnies will see a bit of a change to the lineup on Saturday, as they will be without starting central defender Eric Smolarek, who will be serving a suspension due to a red card he received in the La Salle game last Sunday.  However, they will be hoping for continued production from the regular trio of seniors: Nick Perillo, Brad Vanino, and Emmett O’Connor.  O’Connor is tied for third in the Atlantic 10 in points with 15, and is tied for the team lead in goals with five.  Last weekend, as a team, the Bonnies notched three goals and one assist.  Perillo, Vanino, and O’Connor combined for two of those goals and the lone assist, which gives them a season total of 13 goals and 14 assists.  That translates into 65 percent of the Bonnies total scoring offense this season.

After Saturday’s matchup with Duquesne, the Bonnies will be in action next at home against the St. Louis Billikens on Friday, Oct. 25.  Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

#Bonnies end non conference season against St. Francis

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.

#Bonnies men’s soccer look to bounce back

By Matt Strauss

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies continue their tour of northeastern cities named Newark as they head into New Jersey for a match up against the Highlanders of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.  After suffering their first loss of the season on Friday in Newark, Delaware, the Bonnies will look to right the ship quickly with a 1 p.m. Sunday kickoff in Newark, New Jersey.

The Fightin’ Blue Hens of the University of Delaware handed the Bonnies their first loss of the season on Friday evening in a 3-0 rout.  The Bonnies kept it a scoreless tie to the halftime break.  Shortly after the intermission, the breakout freshman from Spain, Guillermo Delgado, put one away to put the Blue Hens in the lead.  Delaware would add two goals in the last 15 minutes, including Delgado getting his eighth of the year in the 86th minute, to finish it off the 3-0 shutout.  The Blue Hens outshot the Bonnies 12-1 in the second half.

However, the Bonnies have a quick turnaround and must have their sights set on walking out of the weekend trip with a win.  That will be a test against a cagey NJIT team.  The Highlanders, who are at the beginning of only their seventh season at the Division I level, enter the matchup with a 1-3-1 mark overall.  Their lone win was their only home game of the early season, a 1-0 shutout victory over Atlantic 10-member George Washington.  The Highlanders have also had two very good showings against ranked opponents: St. John’s and Farleigh Dickinson.  These resulted in losses of 2-1 and 1-0, respectively.  NJIT’s other loss came at the hands of Sacred Heart in another 2-1 loss.  Along with the loss to Sacred Heart, the Highlanders other sketchy result was a 1-1 tie against the Virginia Military Institute.  VMI has lost each of its other four games.

As for the technical aspect of who the Bonnies are facing, NJIT is a defense-first, conservative group.  Whereas Bonaventure has scored 13 goals over their first five games, NJIT has tallied just four in their first five matches.  The Highlanders are coming off of a 10-9 season – their first since making the move to Division I.  However, they are relatively inexperienced this season having only four seniors on a roster of 28 players.  NJIT is a bit difficult to figure out and part of that can be attributed to the fact that first-year head coach Didier Orellana has been mixing things up trying to find out where everyone works the best.  17 different players have made starts in the first five games.  Bonaventure has used the same lineup for every game except for one change in the Incarnate Word win.

Even after their shutout loss on Friday, the Bonnies still boast one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.  Heading into the weekend, St. Bonaventure and Delaware held the nation’s best mark of 13 goals each in their first four games.  Along with that stat, as of Friday, Bonaventure’s Brad Vanino was tied for the nationally lead for total assists as well.  The Bonnies hope that these weapons can help them open up a Highlander defense that has only allowed six goals so far this year.  With the attack of Vanino through the midfield and fellow senior Nicholas Perillo up top (who was tied for third nationally for total points as of Friday), the Bonnies have a serious offensive threat, which will force NJIT to adjust.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at NJIT’s Lubetkin Field at J. Malcolm Simon Stadium. is predicting a lovely 71 degrees and sunny skies for kickoff, with no chance of rain throughout the afternoon.

New Jersey Institute of Technology Quick Facts – School & Team

  • Public university founded in 1881
  • Just over 7,000 undergraduates
  • An endowment of $77.6 million
  • Members of the recently formed Great West Conference (yes, New Jersey and “West” together)
  • Nicknamed the Highlanders because campus is located in area of Newark called University Heights, or the Newark Highlands