Marra lifts Bona women over Richmond in OT

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

The St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team won 2-1 in an overtime thriller against the Richmond Spiders on Sunday.

This puts the Bonnies at 5-8-1 on the season and also gives them their first conference win. 

The first score of the game came from Richmond’s Alyssa Walker in the 30th minute. 

The Bonnies would not capitalize on any scoring opportunities presented to them in the first half, leaving them trailing 1-0 at halftime.

While scoring was a problem for St. Bonaventure in the first half, the rest of the game would yield a different story. 

The second half is where the Bonnies would find the goal they needed.

Junior forward Isabelle LaBarbera put on a show for this goal with just over ten minutes left to play in the game. 

LaBarbera made a great dribble move past a defender and sent the shot. The ball bounced off of the crossbar and fall in the goal, tying the game 1-1. 

Both teams would push to find the back of the net in the final minutes, but at the end of regulation, the scoreboard still read 1-1. 

In overtime, it wouldn’t take long for the Bonnies to score. Senior midfielder Bella Marra beat the goalkeeper 29 seconds into the overtime period to end the game. 

“We had a really good week of practice,” SBU coach Steve Brdarski said. “We had good energy, and players were out there trying to do the things that we were asking of them. I think it’s super important for our group to train the way that we want to play.

“This is our first conference win, so that makes it extra special. Richmond is a real good team. Obviously, when you get into overtime, it’s a brutal way to lose a game but it’s an amazing way to win a game.” 

The Bonnies will look to keep their winning streak alive Thursday night when they play Rhode Island at home at 7 p.m. 

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Filian’s two goals lead Bonnies over Merrimack

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

On Sunday, the St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team defeated Merrimack at home, 2-1.

The Bonnies improved their season record to 4-4 and their home record to 3-0 with the win.

Kacie Filian led the way for the Bonnies with two goals.

It was a defensive battle throughout the first half. Both teams went back and forth down the field, each trying to find the weak point of the other. 

St. Bonaventure goalkeeper Lauren Malcolm led the game with nine saves, seven of them coming in the first half.

The second-half scoring started in the 69th minute of the game. 

After the Bonnies earned a corner kick, senior forward Bella May gave Filian, a sophomore mid, a perfect pass for her to find the back of the net. 

From there, all it took was seven minutes for the Bonnies to march back and score again, when Filian was on the receiving end of freshman defender Kenzie Tarmino’s assist. 

Merrimack would soon follow with a goal of their own in the 80th minute by Katelyn Richardson. 

Merrimack continued to try and fight their way back into the game, but the Bonnies defense held onto the lead till the final buzzer.

Head coach Steve Brdarski spoke after the game about his team’s win. 

“At the end of the day, we were able to come back and come after them and do the things we needed to do,” Brdarski said. “We’re 3-0 this year at home. I don’t know if we’ve ever done that in my seven years here, so I think it’s important to say that.”  

Brdarski said that at halftime, talking about some of the things that they did and didn’t accomplish in the first half fueled the win.

“We didn’t come out the first 45 minutes with the effort we’ve played in the last two or three games,” Brdarski said. “We challenged them to give more work, more effort, be better on the ball and then to be a little bit gritty. I think we got that grit.”

Filian’s two goals in the game were also her first of the season. 

When asked what was working for her during the game, she said, “We had some in the first half that we didn’t finish so I knew we had to get on the end of them.

“Our defense held us together and it was nice to finally be able repay for them for all the hard work they have been doing in the backline.”

The Bonnies will look to improve to above .500 on Sept. 22 when they travel to Fordham to take on the Rams.

Women’s soccer: Brdarski reflects on coaching Haiti against U.S. women

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

With all due respect to Atlantic 10 contenders Dayton and La Salle, St. Bonaventure women’s soccer coach Steve Brdarski faced his toughest opponent of the year last Thursday night- the United States women’s national team.

Brdarski faced the Women’s World Cup champions at Detroit’s Ford Field as an assistant coach for the Haiti women’s national team. The game was the first of two the Haitians played against the U.S. as part of the Americans’ Victory Tour; they were a last-minute substitute for Australia, whose players refused to play due to a dispute with their federation. Brdarski was unable to make it to last Sunday’s match in Birmingham, Ala. because he was coaching the Bona women at Youngstown St.

The matches went predictably, with the U.S. running away with a 5-0 victory in Detroit and 8-0 drubbing in Birmingham. But Brdarski, who has been with Haiti since 2012, knew the games were about much more than the scoreboard.

“I made sure to tell people ‘just so you know, this is not comparing apples to apples,'” Brdarski said. “A lot of people judge us compared to the American team when they see us play, and it’s unfair because (the programs are in) two different cycles.”

The Copley, Ohio native shouldn’t have to spend too much time convincing people that the nations are in different soccer stratospheres. Besides the obvious fact that the American women won the World Cup and Haiti didn’t even qualify, age and experience are other major differences between the two teams. The current Haiti roster includes two 16-year-olds, two 17-year-olds and four 18-year-olds, while the U.S. World Cup roster featured 10 players over 30 years of age. In fact, 19 Haitian national team players are younger than America’s youngest player, 22-year-old Morgan Brian.

Despite the clear disparity between the two teams, Brdarski said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“As a coach, you get there 90 minutes before the kickoff and one of the first things you do is come out to the field to set up and get things situated before the girls come out,” he said. “When you step into (Ford Field) you come down this huge ramp, so you know there are people there and you hear the crowd but you don’t know how many people are actually there. It’s not until you come to the tunnel that you see that there are a couple thousand people standing there at the tunnel an hour and a half before gametime ready to see the players.

“Then we stepped onto the field and I’d say there were about 5,000-7,000 people that were there already, and they just kept trickling in. We were setting up the cones for warmups and people were already going absolutely crazy. It was really cool to see that environment.”

The fans were there to see the USA, but Brdarski acknowledged the tremendous support and gratitude they showed for his team as well.

“How receptive the crowd was to our team was probably the icing on the cake,” he said. “They were amazing, because they could’ve easily said they wanted a better game or a higher-profile team, but all of the fans knew that without this Haiti team the game would’ve never gone on.

“Our team didn’t get off the field for at least an hour after the game was over because of all the people who wanted to get signatures of all our girls, so that was really, really cool.”

The reception was a reminder of why the federation decided to play these games in the first place. Not many other countries would have agreed to play against the United States women in the first place, let alone playing them in a completely foreign environment without proper preparation time or scouting reports.

“We barely had enough time to get the team that we wanted to bring and get them there by Tuesday,” said Brdarski. “So people would think we were crazy for taking that game, but I think we took it because of the opportunity, the experience and the fans. You don’t want to disappoint those fans who have been waiting for the opportunity to see this game.”

That experience is crucial for a Haiti team that may have to face the Americans in a meaningful match when World Cup qualifying rolls around again in 2018. They already faced that scenario in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship group stage last October, when their dreams of going to the World Cup were dashed in a 6-0 loss to the red, white and blue.

Qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France will be even tougher for Haiti. Fellow CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) member Canada received an automatic bid for this year’s competition by virtue of being the host country, but in the next go-around, everyone is fair game. The United States, Canada and Mexico will be favorites (all-but locks) to qualify, which leaves Haiti, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to fight for a spot in the CONCACAF–CONMEBOL playoff to see who gets the final spot.

If his young squad can continue its progression and undeniable work ethic in the next three and a half years, Brdarski hopes his players can be representing their country on the big stage. However, he made it clear that soccer is just a part of what the program leaders are trying to accomplish.

The Haitian Football Federation has made its players’ development and well-being off the field as much of a priority as on-field growth. When the girls are in the United States for six-month training sessions, they take English lessons at a local university, receive shoes and gear and are aided by numerous charities and fundraisers. Each player was affected by the 2010 earthquake in one way or another, but the game of soccer, along with the sense of family within their team, has helped them recover and live positive lives.

“I’ve never been a part of a team where there’s so much of a humanitarian emotion of coaching a team,” Brdarski said. “You usually coach a team to win or lose. We’re coaching this team because we want them to do well, we want them to have a better life.

“It’s all done to promote and further their lives; that’s the real victory. They’re soccer nuts and they love the game, but it’s what we do off the field that will help them go on and do their best later on in life.”

It’s easy to get caught up in how the American dominance- how they have outscored their opponents 62-7 since their last loss (a February defeat in France) or how all-world midfielder Carli Lloyd has scored 31 international goals since the beginning of last year. But if you’re scoring at home, you can chalk up taking the field and competing against the World Cup champs as a major victory for a country that has really needed a reason to cheer the past five years.

Women’s soccer: Bonnies shrug off preseason rankings, prepare for kickoff

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After weeks of grueling preseason practices and competition for playing time, the St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team is ready to kick off the season in Binghamton at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Once again, the Bonnies head into the season with little respect from the prognosticators after being picked last in both the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches’ poll and TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Atlantic 10 preview.

After a 2-6 conference record put Bona at the bottom of the standings last season, followed by the graduations of impact players Brittany Charles, Molly Curry and Alicia Elwell, the team couldn’t have expected to be very high in the preseason polls. But being picked last stings no matter how you slice it, and the team is using it as fuel.

“Rankings and polls have never scored a goal, made a nice save or won a game,” coach Steve Brdarski said.

“I think it gives our team motivation to do better this season and a goal to work towards,” added sophomore forward Danielle Vis. “I think (the rankings) give us a desire to work hard and prove them wrong.”

Senior forward Lauren Hill was a sophomore in 2013, the last time Bonaventure was picked dead last in the coaches’ poll. That season, the first of Brdarski’s tenure, the Bonnies defied the odds, finishing fourth in the conference and making it to the A-10 semifinals, where they lost to Dayton.

“We always seem to rank pretty low in preseason rankings, so although it does bother me being ranked 14th, we try not to take it to heart and instead use it as fuel to prove everyone wrong,” Hill said.

If history is going to repeat itself in 2015, Hill will have to help lead the charge along with fellow seniors Gabriella Balseca, Stephanie Jenkins, Abby Maiello, Alex Meador and Christina Sarokon. With seven freshmen preparing for their rookie seasons, good leadership is paramount.

Brdarski specifically mentioned Hill and Maiello as players who need to take the next step to help the team win. The duo combined for eight goals last season (Hill scored five and Maiello added three), but the third-year coach wants more.

“You think of Lauren Hill and Abby Maiello, I think those two players in the last two years have been big for us, but we need them to do more,” Brdarski told GoBonnies.com. “Both players have come on in different times and scored goals in particular games, but we’re going to need them to be consistent game in and game out, all season.”

Hill took note of Brdarski’s assessment and aims to be more consistent in her senior campaign.

“This summer I worked hard to get in good shape and improve my shot. I’m going to continue to focus on finishing to gain more consistency.

“Personally, my goal is to do whatever it takes to help us win and to leave everything I have on the field every game.”

Vis was a bright spot for the Bonnies last season. Coaches never know what they’re going to get out of their freshmen, who have to adjust to a faster and more physical style of play than they were accustomed to in high school, but the Milton, Ontario native scored four goals, only trailing Hill in the scoring department.

The 5-foot-3 speedster doesn’t plan on having a sophomore slump. She has plans to develop all aspects of her game, with an emphasis on her first touch and passing accuracy.

It may only be her second year of college soccer, but Vis already has a leadership role on the team after starting every game last season. “I think it is important for everyone on the team to assume a leadership role in different ways,” she said.

“I think with my experience I will be able to help the new players the same way the older girls helped me.”

The projected order of finish doesn’t phase the Bonnies; their goal is still to make it back to the Atlantic 10 tournament. Much of that enthusiasm and determination comes from the top- you’re not going to find many coaches that can match the level of passion for soccer that Steve Brdarski has. From his Twitter analyses of English Premier League, MLS and international matches to the SBU scarves he wears on the sidelines and hands out to soccer fans on his travels, the man loves the beautiful game and loves the program he is leading.

“I am excited for this season, I’m excited for this group,” Brdarski told GoBonnies.com. “We’ve got young players, we have leadership, a good mix of players. Definitely looking forward to seeing what this group can do.”

Can the team go from the bottom of the preseason polls to the Atlantic 10 semis like they did in 2013? The journey starts tonight in Binghamton.

 

 

Q & A with Bonnies women’s soccer coach

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?

Continue reading “Q & A with Bonnies women’s soccer coach”