By Derek Borycki, Staff Writer
The St. Bonaventure University men’s soccer team’s season has come to an end after falling to 22nd-ranked Virginia Commonwealth University by a score of 4-1 in the opening round.
The season was successful, as the Bonnies have now doubled their win count from the previous season for the third straight year.
Kwame Opoku is a junior midfielder who won the Ontario Cup with the S.C. Toronto in 2009.
“It is very motivating to see the improvement,” Opoku said. “When your coach is there for you and you see the success, it pushes you to work harder.”
Luke Iacobellis is a junior goalkeeper who won the Ontario Cup in 2011.
“It feels good to come in from the start with the new coach and going through the tough times to get to where we are now,” Iacobellis said. “Each year we improved and being apart of a rebuilding session, to see it pay off is a great feeling.”
The Brown and White also got their first spot in the Atlantic 10 Tournament since their 2010 season.
“It was a dream come true,” Opoku said. “With last year being my first year in the NCAA, the competition was really challenging, and as a unit we worked as a family to achieve a dream we’ve all been working for since my first year here, and to have the dream come true in my second year is mind blowing.”
Kieran Toland is a senior midfielder who has been named to the Buffalo News’ Best XI Team for 2017 and was selected as the NCAA Soccer Player of the Week.
“It was a great feeling because coming in we knew it was going to be a rebuild, and to do it in three years, which is such a short amount of time, was a very good feeling,” Toland said.
Now that the season is over, the players have a chance to reflect on their favorite experience from the season.
“The VCU game would be it for me,” Toland said. “It was one of my best games. I had a nice goal and an assist to help the team finish a strong team performance. It’s always nice to get goals and assists, but it was a little bit sweeter to do it against such a good team like VCU.”
Opoku had a different experience that he felt strongly about.
“Our second game against Robert Morris when we were down 2-0 and we came back to win 3-2 in overtime,” Opoku said. “That was a very special game for me.”
The Bonnies started conference play off with a rough start losing its first four games, but they finished strong by winning their last four games to advance to the A10 tournament.
“Coach always said if we don’t win the first four, we win the last four,” Opoku said. “Our team has a never give up attitude, and we never had any doubt that we would make the A10. We actually had the number 12 put up in the locker room to represent 12 points which guarantees a spot in the playoffs and remind us of the goal. Every time we won a game, the number would go down until we reached the 12 points so no matter if we won the first four or the last four we knew we would reach the 12 points.”
Going into next year, St. Bonaventure hopes to continue their streak of improvement.
“Next season, I expect the boys to come out fighting harder than we did this year,” Opoku said. “The goal for next year isn’t just to make it to the A10 tournament, but we want to go further and continue to improve.”
“It’s going to be important that our older players step up and show maturity,” Iacobellis said. “We’ve also got a lot of talented young players who will step up and maintain the improvement.”
For Kieran Toland, this is the end of his career at St. Bonaventure, but he will still be rooting for the guys come next year.
“This year our goal was to qualify for the A10, and now the goal should be to maintain that and start to make some noise in the Tournament, and I know the guys can get it done,” Toland said.
The St. Bonaventure men’s soccer team will look to the future and hope to build off the successful 2017 campaign for the 2018 season.