SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Coming off its first victory of the season, the Bryant University men's soccer team will look to continue its winning ways as it resumes its three-game road trip and opens Northeast Conference play against Quinnipiac University on Friday, Sept. 30 at 3:30 p.m. before traveling to Brooklyn, N.Y. to battle Long Island University on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 1 p.m.
Fresh off a 1-0 win over Manhattan College last Sunday, the Bulldogs (1-4-1) will look to carry over last year's success against both squads into the 2011 campaign. Bryant came up with a 2-0 blanking over the Bobcats (2-3) last season, with current junior Ryan Stone (Wakefield, R.I. ) having a say on the scoring chart of that game, as his strike in the 34th minute helped propel the Bulldogs to a home victory on Oct. 15, 2010.
After suffering through a few heartbreaking, one-goal setbacks through the first five games, the Black and Gold came out on the winning side of last Sunday's non-league matchup with Manhattan, as senior Bunmi Familoni (East Greenwich, R.I.) ripped a shot from 20 yards out and watched it careen off the post before hitting the opposing goaltender and finding the back of the net, lifting the Bulldogs to a 1-0 victory over the Jaspers. Sophomore George Spanos (Garden City, N.Y.) earned his first clean sheet of 2011, recording four saves to lower his season goals-against average to 1.61 while raising his save percentage to .714.
Pacing the team in scoring is senior tri-captain Nicholas Parisi (Holbrook, N.Y.), whose two penalty-kick goals and one assist have him atop the charts with five points. Behind him is rookie Connor Norat (Wilmington, Del.), who has appeared in every game so far and has put up one goal and one assist for the Bulldogs.
Thematic of this year's squad has been the level of intensity on the pitch each game, indicative of the fact that Bryant ranks third in the conference with 97 total fouls, averaging a league-high 16.17 per game. The Bulldogs also rank third in corner kicks with 33, averaging 5.50 per match.
Scouting the Bobcats
Friday's contest will mark the end of a season-high three-game home stretch for Quinnipiac, and the Bobcats have been perfect during the previous two matches, edging both Hartford and Loyola (Md.) by one goal each to pick up their first two victories of the 2011 season. William Cavallo scored the game's only goal against the Greyhounds on Saturday, Sept. 24, pushing Quinnipiac to a 1-0 victory.
After being tabbed to finish in a tie for seventh place in the Preseason Coaches Poll, Quinnipiac started the year with three straight losses before righting the ship at home, where they are 2-1 on the season. Offensively, freshman Ola Ogonjobi and junior Philip Suprise are tied with six points, with the rookie tickling the twine three times while Suprise has netted one goal and dished out four assists. Freshman Borja Angoitia has handled the majority of the goaltending duties, limiting opponents to 2.00 goals per game while posting a .600 save percentage.
Scouting the Blackbirds
Before welcoming Bryant on Sunday afternoon, the Blackbirds (2-4-2) will face a tough test on Friday afternoon, traveling to West Long Branch, N.J. to take on the preseason unanimous pick to win the Northeast Conference, Monmouth University, on Sept. 30. Sunday's affair also doubles as Long Island's 2011 home opener, as the Blackbirds have not played a single match in Brooklyn yet. LIU has participated in three in-season tournaments, starting the year going 0-1-1 at the USD Tournament in San Diego, Calif., before playing in the CU Inaria Classic and the Penn Soccer Classic. Most recently, the Blackbirds fell to the University of Pennsylvania, 4-1, on Sept. 25.
Atop the LIU scoring chart is senior Steve Jakubowski, who has totaled five points on two goals and one assist. Juniors Jakeem Johnson and Elliot Kane have also found the back of the net twice, while senior Rommel Forde has dished a team-high two helpers. Goaltending duties have been handled mainly by senior Adam Janssen, who has started 6-of-8 games and has limited foes to 1.33 goals per game and boasts an impressive .825 save percentage.
Next week, Bryant returns to the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium to start a four-game stretch at home, starting with a Friday afternoon contest against St. Francis (NY) on Oct. 7. Two days later, they will welcome Monmouth University on Sunday, Oct. 9 for a 1 p.m. affair.