Freshman goalkeeper Bono looks to bounce back after suffering 1st loss of Syracuse career
Ian McIntyre nervously clapped as the ball was launched beyond the left sideline.
Alex Bono tried to outrace a Niagara forward instead of clearing the ball on his first touch. When the ball was taken away from him, the SU freshman goalkeeper left the Syracuse net wide open and vulnerable for a counterattack.
“It happens,” said McIntyre. “That’s the occupational hazard of playing the position, and he’ll bounce back.”
On that open-net play, Bono avoided surrendering an easy goal. But he was tripped up on many more, looking more like a first-year starter and less like the highly-touted prospect Syracuse (2-1) landed to anchor the program. He’ll need to recover quickly from his first mistake-filled game when the Orange plays Colgate (1-1-1) at SU Soccer Stadium on Monday at 7 p.m.
Bono, the 46th-rated overall prospect in last year’s graduating class by ESPN Rise, headlined the No. 14 recruiting class in the nation, according to College Soccer News. Only Georgetown (No. 6) and South Florida (No. 11) put together better recruiting classes in the Big East.
McIntyre said Bono could become the best goalkeeper in program history. He posted two shutouts in SU’s first two wins, but he showed his youth in a 2-1 loss to Niagara Friday.
Bono was exposed against the Bearcats, making a few crucial mistakes early.
In the seventh minute, Niagara’s Callum Willmott redirected a cross to the box with a header on goal. Willmott was the only opposing player in the box, but Bono couldn’t get a read on the header in time to stop the game’s first goal.
Other mistakes – like the open-goal scramble – were much more avoidable.
“There were definitely some things in my game tonight that I’d like to clean up,” Bono said after the game. “I’ve got to play better.”
His most egregious error came one minute into the second half.
Bono charged a shot and gained possession, but he rushed his next decision. As he got rid of the ball, it was tipped and trapped by Willmott, who shot past a bewildered Bono for his second goal of the game.
“The keeper got rid of it, and the ball just came to me,” Wilmott said after the game. “It was easy to get that goal.”
Bono can’t give up easy goals against a better Colgate team.
The Raiders had 13 shots in a losing effort against Villanova on Saturday. If they match that number, it would make for the busiest day in goal in Bono’s young career. Only Albany sent more shots at Bono with 12 of the Great Danes’ 22 shots missing the target altogether.
Still, McIntyre expects Bono to be up to the task Monday.
“There’s not many freshman goalkeepers that can have such a big impact on a game,” said McIntyre. “He’s a resilient guy. He’ll bounce back and win us some games.”
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