A memorable match awaits the St. Bonaventure women's soccer team on Monday, as Steve Brdarski's Bonnies will clash with the Puerto Rico women's national team at 7 p.m. at Marra Athletic Complex (3261 W. State Road, Olean) for the program's final spring game.
The clash will mark the first time a St. Bonaventure soccer team has hosted an international side. Like all matches, it's free for fans to attend, but it can also be viewed live at the St. Bonaventure Athletics Facebook page and GoBonniesTV.
On the surface, it would seem improbable that the PR national side would schedule a trip to Olean, but after a little digging, it makes perfect sense.
New Puerto Rico WNT head coach and technical director Shek Borkowski, hired March 20, had Brdarski on his staff when he managed the Haiti women's national team up until earlier this year, and that partnership will continue with Puerto Rico.
“I want [Puerto Rico] to beat up on Ball State. I want them to kill Notre Dame. But I’d love to beat them," Brdarski said in an interview with the Olean Times Herald last week. "I’m not going to be able to ride off in the sunset, but for our team and this program – we’re in our 35th year – it would just be a perfect moment to be able to say, ‘Look what we did.’”
Puerto Rico is ranked 91st in the world, according to the latest FIFA release, which is the highest in the country's history, even though it's never qualified for a World Cup. The international side is still a long way from being competitive in CONCACAF - three losses in 2016 Olympic Qualifying to the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica were by a combined score of 25-0 - but Borkowski and Brdarski are hopeful that, with time, Puerto Rico could make some noise.
"I think Puerto Rico has a reputation for being a top-10 team in CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football), but the next two years you will see them in the top four which is a big jump," Brdarski said.
For more on Borkowski's plans for the PR national team, read the Equalizer's feature here.
St. Bonaventure, one of the youngest teams in the Atlantic 10, is coming off a 4-14-1 season (1-9 in A-10). Standout players include captain and midfielder Danielle Vis, as well as promising youngsters like goalkeeper Lauren Malcolm, midfielder Sabrina Sousa-Sampson and forward Sydney Cerza.
Here's the primer from early last fall: