Sept. 22, 2004
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - After enduring a dismal 2-16-1 season just one year ago, the St. Bonaventure men's soccer team did not have to do much to improve on last year.
Now five games into the 2004 season, the Bonnies stand undefeated at 4-0-1 and ranked 25th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Top 25 poll released Sept. 21.
This is the second national ranking in the program's history, as the Bonnies were ranked 12th in the second NSCAA poll of the 2002 season. But, they quickly fell out of the rankings that year.
St. Bonaventure head coach Bill Brady said such an honor will be difficult to maintain, but believes his team is capable of being competitive in each and every contest.
"I don't really think about rankings much because they can come just as easy as they can go, as we've learned in the past," he said. "I'm more concerned about keeping ourselves in every game and providing ourselves with the opportunities to win."
The Bonnies have done just that so far, earning wins over Syracuse, Loyola, Bowling Green and Niagara, while tying 20th-ranked Binghamton.
"We've played some real character games against Syracuse and coming from behind to beat Loyola in the second half," Brady said. "Those have created an mentality within the team that no matter what the score is, and no matter how much time is left, we still have a chance to win. We haven't always played our best, but we've been difficult to beat."
According to Brady, the Bonnies' somewhat surprising start to the season can be attributed to the team capitalizing its strengths.
"We're a short, quick passing-type team with skilled players like Andy Garcia, Phil Amahazion, Konrad Paszkowski and Misael Pedraza who control the middle," Brady said. "We try to let them dictate the pace that can open spaces for Kevin Omokhua to get in with his pace."
Using that philosophy, Omokhua has netted three goals, while Garcia has two goals and three assists. Six other players have one goal each as the Bonnies have outscored their opponents12-5. In goal, senior Sean Eyde has tallied 19 saves and a .792 save percentage.
The Bonnies will put their undefeated record on the line Friday at the Diadora Classic when they take on the host Oregon State Beavers, who are 3-4-1. Brady said this will be a tough test as the Beavers have already played Indiana, Rhode Island and Notre Dame - all nationally-ranked clubs.
"Oregon State has a great recruiting class this year and a very competitive schedule. We've got our work cut out for us," Brady said. "We'll have some match-ups to address, but we're concentrating on keeping the shape of our attack where we want it and maintain possession. They're a very confident team, but so are we."
Brady admitted that the season is young and the toughest road is ahead.
"The non-conference schedule is just a tool to get us prepared for the conference schedule," he said. "Our bread and butter is the Atlantic 10 Conference, and we're still getting ourselves better every game now in order to put ourselves in the position to compete at the A-10 Tournament."
At this point in the season, Brady said it is difficult to make predictions. However, he said the goal for his team is to finish in the top six of the A-10, earning the Bonnies spot in the conference tournament.
"I really believe that with the right amount of time to prepare that we really can beat anyone on any given day," he said. "I'm not saying that we will, but we have the athletes and the desire on a given day to match up with anyone. Facing the top teams in the conference in a tournament format will be a test, but I like our chances on the one day."