The St. Bonaventure University men's soccer team begins the 2017 season with a pair of games on the road this weekend, first traveling to Bucknell on Friday night before visiting Robert Morris on Sunday afternoon.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
St. Bonaventure made great strides last season and looks to continue its rise this year under third-year head coach Kwame Oduro. Last year, Atlantic 10 teams could no longer overlook the Bonnies who became a player in the conference and remained in the A-10 Tournament race until the final day of the season. After going 1-7 in Atlantic 10 action in 2015, the Bonnies improved to 3-4-1 in league play, knocking off Dayton, Davidson and George Washington while scoring a draw with Duquesne during the 2016 slate. One of the league's most improved clubs a year ago, the Bonnies aim to take the next step in the progression of the program as 2017 begins.
One of the reasons the Bonnies have high hopes entering the 2017 season is the number of players who will return off last year's squad. Bona returns nearly the entire nucleus of last year's improving side, bringing back 20 players who have previous experience in the program.
Among the returners are leading scorer Kieran Toland, who netted four goals last year, and Paul Afful, who earned a spot on the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team in his first season with the program last fall. In all, the Bonnies lost just one player who registered points on last year's team as leading point-getters Isaiah Wilson, Jacob Dyck, Kosi Nwafornso, Nikko Richards and Jon-Michael Perkins also return. In all, 11 players are back who started 10 or more matches in 2016.
In net, junior Luke Iacobellis returns after stopping 60 shots and recording two clean sheets in 11 starts last year.
Bucknell finished 7-11-3 overall and 4-4-1 in the Patriot League a year ago, reaching the second round of the league tournament. Led by 19th-year head coach Brendan Nash, Bucknell returns three seniors along with All-Patriot League selection Nick King who had 15 points last year. The Bison have reached the conference postseason in six straight seasons and also will be opening their season Friday.
All-time, the Bonnies are 1-1-2 against Bucknell, including a 1-1 draw last year at the Marra Athletics Complex when Toland scored on a penalty kick in the waning seconds of regulation for the tie. This will mark the first trip for the Bonnies to Lewisburg since 2006 when Bucknell came away with a 3-1 win.
ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS
Robert Morris was picked eighth in the 2017 Northeast Conference Preseason Poll after going 4-11-2 and 1-5-1 in league play last year. The Colonials return five of their top six scorers from 2016 including All-NEC selection Keane McIvor who led the squad in assists and points last season. Senior goalkeeper Winter Fondi had three shutouts in 16 starts last fall. Like the Bonnies, RMU has a pair of games on tap for opening weekend, beginning their season with a trip to Cleveland State on Friday night.
Last year was the first-ever meeting between the Bonnies and Colonials with Robert Morris scoring a 1-0 victory at the Marra Athletics Complex.
St. Bonaventure next makes the long trek to Texas where the Bonnies will play in the Rio Grande Valley Invitational in Edinburg, Texas. First up is a date with Texas Rio Grande Valley on Friday, Sept. 1 before a contest vs. Houston Baptist on Sunday, Sept. 3. The Bonnies open at home vs. Canisius on Friday, Sept. 8.
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