ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - Senior Bryan Da Cruz
notched his third goal of the season at the 83rd minute as the Niagara men’s soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to nine games with a 3-2 win over St. Bonaventure Sunday afternoon.
Goalkeeper Brett Petricek
and the NU (6-0-3) defense had to be solid as the Bonnies (1-8) increased pressure in the second 45 minutes of the contest, outshooting the Purple Eagles, 8-2.
Niagara’s efforts in the back paid off though, as Da Cruz gave the team the late lead for the Purple Eagles third straight victory to wrap up their non-conference schedule.
“It was another game where were on our heels, but the guys worked tremendously hard from start to finish to get the result,” head coach Chase Brooks
said. “St. Bonaventure is a good team despite their record and they’re definitely better than that. They worked hard and wanted to get the result on their home field, but we were very fortunate that our team kept the faith and didn’t give up.”
Both teams saw opportunities in the opening half of play as each squad tallied two goals, with the Bonnies holding a nine to four advantage in shots.
St. Bonaventure had initially gotten on the scoreboard just over 12 minutes into the first half when midfielder Brad Vanino jumped on a rebound from a James Reed shot. Less than a minute later the Purple Eagles evened the game after forward Callum Willmott
found the back of the next for the fifth time this season off an assist from Da Cruz.
Emmett O’Connor responded for the Bonnies in the 18th minute, taking back the lead on a low, right-corner shot for an unassisted goal.
The Purple Eagles finished the first half on a strong note as senior Mike Cunningham
pulled the team back even with 40 seconds left in the half. The senior’s first goal of the season was assisted by rookie Keaton Levock
and senior Rene De Zorzi
“We believe we are one of the hardest working teams in the country and because of it we were rewarded late in the game," Brooks added. "Now we are looking forward to start conference play.”
Da Cruz finished the game with three points (1-1-3) and two looks on net. Petricek made six saves for a 0.83 goals-against average for the season.
Niagara returns to action in two weeks when it begins conference play against Loyola on Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. and Rider on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m.