SOCCER FEATURE: Currey enters senior season leading by example

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — In the uncertain times of a global pandemic, the most important things to have on any athletic team are leadership and experience.  

As the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team prepares for an unusual season, it turns to older players such as Shea Currey to set the tone for the program going forward. 

“He has a big part to play, on the field and off the field,” said Kwame Oduro, head coach of men’s soccer at SBU. “He has been an excellent role model for our young guys and the new guys coming in.” 

Oduro spoke very highly of the senior midfielder, who has developed his own methods of leadership on the team.  

“He’s kind of a guy who does it quietly, on the sideline or in the locker room individually,” Oduro said. 

Currey was named by the team as a captain for the season, which is scheduled to start during the spring semester. This is his fourth and final season as a Bonnie. 

Currey’s journey to St. Bonaventure has not been an ordinary one. He and his family moved from Liverpool, England to Orlando, Florida, where he attended Montverde High School. 

Leaving Orlando to come to SBU presented some challenges, but he wasn’t alone.  

“From the beginning I felt like I always I had friends, family, people I could rely on,” Currey said. 

The years at Bona’s have been very special for Currey. He has been on the soccer team for the past three years, and now in his last year, he is looking to give back.  

“Now as a senior, I am just trying to give back what I’ve been taught from the seniors, and just keep traditions going, and keeping that family feel,” he said. 

COVID-19 has posed many problems for student-athletes and coaches in all sports. Despite this, Currey looked toward the positives of the current situation and was thankful to be back out on the field.  

“We’ve got to make the most out of our time on the field and try and get better for when the games do come back,” he said.  

Improvement has been something Currey has focused on, and Oduro has seen the developments in his game. 

Oduro wanted the team to stay motivated in a strange offseason. Specifically, for Currey, he wanted him to clean up his first touch on the ball. He raved about the strides Currey has made in the offseason.  

“It’s been miles apart in [his] technique and work rate, and just the cleanliness of [his] touches and [his] passes,” Oduro said. 

Currey acknowledged the improvements he has made, but continued to keep a selfless approach to the season and staying ready for when the time comes. As a captain, he believes he will be prepared and knows his job in making sure his team is ready as well.  

Currey also described his experience with fellow senior and teammate Francesco Caorsi.

Caorsi and Currey each play midfield, and compete against each other often in practice.  

“For me, I just like going up against him because he is really good,” Currey said. “He definitely helps bring out the best in me for sure.” 

Whichever way the season turns out, Currey will be ready to lead by example and take the improvements he made in the offseason and translate them to game action on the field.  

“I’m just going to keep working hard, keep doing what I’m doing, and just try to perform my best when the time comes,” he said. 

Bona men’s soccer adjusts, trains during unusual fall

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jonny Walker

ST. BONVENTURE, NY — This past week, the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team was cleared to enter phase three of the university’s COVID-19 return to play action plan. 

The plan allows the team to resume contact drills, which were explicitly banned in phase two, but restricts them to training within smaller groups rather than intermingling with the whole team. 

Players, who are still expected to wear face coverings when not actively participating in a workout, were split up into their respective groups based on multiple factors, the most important of which being their proximity to one another on a normal field of play. 

For instance, a left-center back and a left back would be placed in the same group based upon them playing positions that line up adjacent to one another on the field, while also often working together.  

The Atlantic-10—the conference to which all of St. Bonaventure’s NCAA Division I sports programs belong—officially announced its decision to indefinitely postpone all conference-sponsored games and championships way back in July. However, men’s soccer has sought to maintain some semblance of normalcy throughout this fall. 

Despite the lack of games to prepare for, the team has held to a relatively rigorous practice schedule amidst the pandemic, holding training sessions five days a week.  

According to head coach Kwame Oduro, this idea of training for a game that is an indefinite amount of time away works both for and against his squad. 

One of the main points of any practice from a coach’s perspective, Oduro said, is to ,”Implement your philosophies and your principles.” 

The lack of competition for the foreseeable future enables the sixth-year head coach to “Take (my) time getting those principles and ideas to our players.” 

On the other hand, Oduro believes that there is no true way to evaluate where his players are currently at in that process without the test of real, game-time action against an actual opponent. 

“The things that we do in training, we’re not getting to use them in a game,” Oduro said. “Playing against your teammates is one thing, but it’s another thing when you have to play against different competition, which, sometimes, you know very little about. It forces you to actually develop and grow faster.” 

Optimism surrounding the possibility of games being played this fall may be at an all-time low, as, when asked, Oduro said that he does not believe his team will be able to play until at least 2021.

“That’s the bottom line,” he said.

He did, however, point to competition resuming in the spring being much more probable. 

A vaccine, alongside learning from the example of other sports that would have already returned to play by that point, such as football and basketball, has Oduro excited about the possibility of spring soccer.  

Oduro also said that he does not take the COVID-19-related restrictions being imposed upon his team to be over-bearing or unnecessary, and that he and his staff are very much appreciative of the efforts to keep him, his players, and the community safe. 

“Let them know that we thank them for giving us the chance to be able to train and play and do the things that we love the most,” he said.    

Sports at SBU are back… kind of

photo: Nic Gelyon/The Intrepid

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — It’s unlikely that there will be a fall sports season at St. Bonaventure, at least in the traditional sense.

But that hasn’t deterred student-athletes from working diligently over the last six months, preparing as if there will be.  

University athletics have come a long, long way since March. When St. Bonaventure sent students home last semester due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the athletic department faced the same cloud of uncertainty that has shrouded society for the better part of the last six months.  

The university did not, however, use this uncertainty as a mask for dormancy, or to wait for all the answers to appear out of nowhere.

Coaches and administrators decided, wisely, to get a head start. They immediately began to gather as much information about COVID-19 as possible. 

 “Before school shut down, me and my assistant coach sat down and started doing more research on COVID,” said Kwame Oduro, head men’s soccer coach at SBU.

Oduro was referring to the time in between when his team returned from their winter trip to England and when school went remote. 

“This is a pandemic, man, this is no joke,” he said. “There’s no way we can keep coming to school. That’s when it hit me.” 

The information gathered was relayed quickly to student-athletes to keep them updated, especially as new layers were added weekly to the university’s COVID-19 return to action plan.

“When [Coach Oduro] would get any news from the A-10 or the NCAA, he would just tell us immediately, like schedule a meeting or a Zoom call,” said Cuneyt Vardar, a  junior midfielder on the men’s soccer team. “It would be pretty immediate.” 

In addition to effective communication, realism became a priority for the St. Bonaventure athletic department. 

The department’s actions would display practicality, not perfection- a mindset that is a necessity in 2020. 

“We could have the best laid plans,” St. Bonaventure athletic director Tim Kenney said in a video statement provided to The Intrepid. “But we can’t be naive to think it’s not going to sneak onto campus.” 

The university’s protocol was split into three phases, according to Kenney. 

Phases one and two included activities such as off-campus quarantines, on-campus quarantines, coronavirus education and the gradual progression of strength and conditioning work. 

It might as well have been known as St. Bonaventure’s Coronavirus training camp. 

But training camp is over now. The third phase is pregame. 

In a perfect world, game time for fall sports would be right around the corner, and phase three would involve the actual playing of games. 

For now, though, it is simply an exercise in keeping the athletes fit, gradually increasing intensity in practices. That, of course, is also dependent on the impact that COVID-19 is having on the university. 

Same-sport athletes have been deliberately placed in dorms with each other for this reason. In theory, if athletes surround each other with other athletes, they will, for the most part, stay within similar environments.

Many student-athletes know they will face strange challenges in this new world. Vardar told me that athletes probably will not be allowed to use locker rooms – at least not all at once – or to share towels. 

This does fall in line with the current coronavirus guidelines in the school’s return to action plan. Oduro told me that if fall sports do get off the ground, it will probably only be among teams similar regions, or at the very least teams that are not in restricted states. 

Kenney wants kids to step up in a time of need and take this opportunity to become great leaders. 

“It’s going to take everybody on this campus – not just athletics – in order for us to make this semester a success,” he said. “We can’t let up, and so our kids will have to keep that leadership role and lead by example.” 

Oduro wants the campus community, and especially his athletes, to take this opportunity to reacquaint themselves with SBU and remember how special an experience it is to be on its campus. 

“For all that college experience to still be around, we need to do our part,” Oduro said. “There are going to be some kids that feel like COVID-19 is not going to affect them because they’re young… we have to be a little selfless.” 

Vardar wants to someday become a physical therapist, and the best soccer player he can be. He is going to take the life-changing hand he has been dealt this year and, with hope, make the best of it. 

“I love the anatomy of the body, and I just love to work with people,” Vardar said. “I want to finish my soccer career here at St. Bonaventure.”

Vardar wants to play professional soccer, either in the United States or possibly in Turkey. He has played in Turkey previously, and his uncle has connections to the country. 

“Because of the Coronavirus, (the NCAA) gave us an extra year of eligibility, so for my graduate school at Daeman College,” Vardar said. “I want to play at year of Division II soccer (at Daeman), and that would finish up my college soccer eligibility.”

Fall sports at SBU will continue to practice using safety protocols and COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of student-athletes and coaches.

And, spoiler alert: According to the NCAA, men’s and women’s basketball can return on Nov. 25.

Bona men break dry spell against Canisius

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Akim Hudson

Coming into Tuesday night’s matchup, the St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team carried a nineyear losing streak against the Canisius Golden Griffins. 

The Bonnies overcame that, however, as they defeated Canisius 3-0 at the Marra Athletics Complex. 

Missed opportunities and great defense were the motifs of the game early in the match.  

Both teams were fortunate enough to be presented scoring chances on numerous occasions, but both were plagued by overshooting and miscommunication. 

But a shift in momentum emerged as a red card was drawn on St. Bonaventure. 

Bonnies defender Jon Michael-Perkins was ejected from the match, and much of the crowd was appalled by the decision the official.  

Shortly after, St. Bonaventure’s Isaac Bomah broke the ice and scored the first goal of the match off of an assist from Jacob Dyck, at approximately the 1:02 mark.  

Being a man short, the Bonnies entered the second half of the match facing adversity, yet motivated. 

After a chippy start to the second half, a slight altercation on a corner kick resulted in Canisius’ Manuele Cavazzoli being handed a red card, and being ejected with approximately 26:47 left in the match. 

Then, with about 10:39 left in the match, Jacob Dyck found the back of the net off of an assist from Luca Nicastro to advance the Bonnies’ score to 2-0.  

Over the last 10:00, it seemed apparent that St. Bonaventure was on its way to finally breaking its losing streak against Canisius. 

If the second goal wasn’t enough assurance, within the last 3:00 of the match, Fredrik Hansen of St. Bonaventure put the nail in the coffin with a third, off an assist by Callum Beattie. 

The Bonnies had beat their rival for the first time in eight matches.     

Bona coach Kwame Oduro said it felt great to “finally beat” his former mentor, coach Dermot McGrane of Canisius.  

A somewhat unintentional birthday gift for Oduro added a subtle sweetness to this great victory.  

When asked what about the team’s expectations for this season, Oduro said that “every year we try to get into the playoffs.” 

The next Bona home game will be this Saturday versus VCU at the Marra Athletics Complex.  

Bona men fall short to Hartford

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

The St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team fell short in a 1-0 loss to the Hartford Hawks on Sunday. his loss brings the Bonnies season record to 1-3. 

Hartford was the first to tally one on the scoreboard, as it scored its first goal in the 11th minute of the first half.  

The Bonnies had many opportunities to score throughout the first half, but none resulted in a goal.  

Junior midfielder Fredrik Hansen had a very good look in the 36thminute, but it was blocked on its way to the net.  

Hansen led the team with two shots in the game. Despite their lack of scoring, the Bonnies outshot the Hawks 7-3 in the first half.  

The second half would result in more of the same for the Bonnies. 

The Hawks would not let the Bonnies score, however, allowing just two shots throughout the second half. There were also some opportunities for Hartford to score, but the Bonnies defense made sure none of them would make it past the goalkeeper.  

The Bonnies accumulated nine shots on the day, outshooting the Hawks, who had six shots. 

The Bonnies have scored just two goals in their first four games of the season. Head coach Kwame Oduro talked about their inefficiency scoring after the game.  

“We have to just be a little more composed in front of goal,” he said. “We’ve got to keep being positive and hopefully the ball will start going into the net for us.” 

The Bonnies will be hosting Little Three rival Canisius on Sept. 17.  

In their preparation for their Tuesday game, coach Oduro said, “What we can do on Monday is just make sure we get the lactic acid out from our boys and then kind of walk through and get ready for Canisius which is another tough game.” 

The Bonnies will look to add a win to their record under the lights, as the game’s start time is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

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.