Soccer Picked 6th In A-10, Return Trip To Postseason Expected
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The St. Bonaventure men's soccer team has been predicted to finish in 6th place in the Atlantic 10 Conference for the upcoming season, in voting conducted among the league's head coaches.
The Bonnies, who finished last year with a 10-8-1 overall record and 5-3-1 A-10 mark, earned the 4th seed at the A-10 Championship before losing to 5th-seeded Saint Louis in the quarterfinals. The 4th-place finish represented a seven-spot differential from predicted to actual finish as the club was chosen to finish 11th in the preseason poll.
If St. Bonaventure does finish in 6th place, it will send the team to the postseason tournament for the third consecutive season. Only the top six schools of the 14 member institutions qualify for the A-10 Championship.
The Brown and White have tallied back-to-back years of double-digit wins, representing the first time that has happened to the program since a three-year stretch from 1997-99.
"We've worked very hard the past three years to gain access to the A-10 tournament," head coach Mel Mahler said. "Keeping in mind that only six teams of the 14 in the A-10 make the postseason, our goal has been to re-establish a winning attitude not just in our conference but the September non-conference matches as well. The success in the first half of the year will prepare us for the championship level of play necessary for all nine conference matches."
Mahler lost 10 seniors to graduation last May, but will return 14 freshman letterwinners who are now sophomores and welcome 14 newcomers. Last year, 99 percent of the team's total offense (75 of 76 points) came from either the freshman (55 percent) or senior class (44 percent).
Returning to lead the offensive attack is Emmett O'Connor, who paced the Bonnies with five goals and 17 points in his inaugural campaign with the Brown and White. Four of those five goals were game-winners, a total which ranked second in the conference. The Ajax, Ontario native led the A-10 with seven assists, and his stellar rookie season was capped by being named to both the A-10 All-Conference Honorable Mention Team and A-10 All-Rookie Team.
Joining O'Connor on the All-Rookie Team was fellow midfielder Brad Vanino, who finished the 2010 docket ranking fifth in the A-10 with five assists. He appeared in all 19 games, making 18 starts.
Charlotte was picked to capture the 2011 A-10 men's soccer title. The 49ers, who won the regular-season title last year, are ranked 23rd in the College Soccer News preseason poll and return nine starters among 20 letterwinners off last season's squad that went 13-5-1 overall and 8-1 in league play.
"Our goal is to make the tournament as a higher seed from the previous year, hopefully as a No. 1," Mahler said of his expectations this year. "The preseason ranking of 6th is great to see; it's the highest during my tenure (entering seventh season), and while we appreciate being acknowledged for our hard work it's not lost upon us that a game has yet to be played. Whether we're ranked first or last, we will have to perform at a very high level to return to the postseason for a third consecutive time.
"Conference parity is at an all-time high. Last year it came down to eight teams fighting for the last playoff spot on the last day of the season. I anticipate that being the case again this year. We will have to be a team that takes care of its own destiny and be ready to compete and be successful early on in conference play. If not, then we're putting ourselves in a situation where we have to depend on other teams to help us, and that is never a good thing."
The Bonnies will host Rochester on Tuesday in an exhibition contest slated to begin at 3 p.m. The season will then officially start for the club on Friday as it takes to the McGraw-Jennings pitch against Big 4 rival University at Buffalo beginning at 3 p.m.
2011 Atlantic 10 Men's Soccer Predicted Order of Finish (2010 overall record/A-10 record in parentheses)
1. Charlotte (13-5-1/8-1)
2. Saint Louis (9-7-3/5-3-1)
3. Xavier (10-7-4/5-4)
4. Fordham (10-8/5-4)
6. St. Bonaventure (10-8-1/5-3-1)
7. Dayton (7-8-3/3-4-2)
8. La Salle (9-7-3/6-2-1)
9. Massachusetts (5-5-8/4-2-3)
10. Duquesne (8-7-3/4-4-1)
11. Richmond (5-12-1/4-5)
12. Rhode Island (3-13-2/1-7-1)
13. George Washington (3-15/1-8)
14. Saint Joseph's (2-15/1-8)
Preseason A-10 Men's Soccer All-Conference Team
Simon Gomez, Duquesne, SO, F
Evan James, Charlotte, SR, F
Seth Rudolph, George Washington, JR, F
Luke Spencer, Xavier, JR, F
Cody Calafiore, Temple, JR, MF
Tyler Gibson, Charlotte, SO, MF
Donnie Smith, Charlotte, JR, MF
Charles Rodriguez, Charlotte, SR, D
Jack Pearson, Dayton, SR, D
Isaac Cowles, Charlotte, SR, D
Ryan Meara, Fordham, SR, GK
Preseason A-10 Men's Soccer All-Rookie Team
David Abidor, Dayton, FR, MF
Tom Baker, La Salle, FR, MF/F
Johnny Contreras, Duquesne, FR, D
Guiseppe Gentile, Charlotte, FR, F
William Hidalgo, Saint Louis, FR, MF
Robbie Kristo, Saint Louis, FR, F
Ross Morison, Rhode Island, FR, F
Max Odgaard, Dayton, FR, F
Matthew Sykes, Rhode Island, FR, MF
Filip Velasevic, Duquesne, FR, MF
James Weber, Xavier, FR, F