Second-year starter Alex Bono maintains presence in the net

Sophomore goalkeeper Alex Bono juggles school work with a stellar performance as the last line of SU's defense on the soccer pitch.

Alex Bono found his love for soccer through his consistent preparation and drive to become the best goalkeeper on the field. A native of Baldwinsville, N.Y., Bono needed to immerse himself with a few years of playing sports before discovering which sport he preferred. And during the latter stage of his pre-teenage years, he found that sport to be soccer.

Photo: Courtesy of SU Athletic Communications
SU goalkeeper Alex Bono boots a kick during his freshman year against Niagara on Aug. 31, 2012.

“It wasn’t until I was around 10 years old that I found soccer as my passion,” Bono said.

His progression began during his time at Charles W. Baker High School, only 20 minutes north at Syracuse. He is a renowned athlete within their athletics program, as he anchored the team towards four Section III championships and two regional titles.

Before attending Syracuse, Bono had the biggest opportunity of his young career when he was selected as a member of the United States U-18 National Soccer Team. While Bono was prepared to compete at a level amongst other elite players in the country, the opportunity challenged him in all facets of the game.

“It’s huge. It’s good to meeting a lot of guys that are on your playing level from across the country.” Bono said. “It’s great to train in that kind of environment with so many eyes on you.”

Bono stepped foot on the Syracuse University campus in the summer of 2012 with plenty of challenges coming ahead. While he had to adjust to playing at the speed of the Division I level, he faced his share of challenges in a classroom.

A broadcast digital journalism major at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Bono acknowledged the difficulty of balancing his time in the classroom along with the grueling hours on the soccer field. The effort that he puts in the classroom, however, has made it possible to work out schedules with his professors.

“It’s tough managing a major like broadcast journalism,” Bono said. “But I’m glad that my Newhouse professors are flexible enough to work with me.”

On the field, the Bono era began during his first year with the program. He started 20 games as a freshman, including the NCAA Tournament. Bono was a part of a historical year for the program in 2012, which finished its first winning season since 2008.

As a result, there were reasonable expectations for Syracuse entering 2013. A program on the rise, the Orange entered unfamiliar territory by joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. SU, one of the younger teams in the conference, now had to face national powerhouses such as the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina.

Now a sophomore, Bono has welcomed the challenge of pressure and expectations. In fact, he has six shutouts in 16 games this season. Freshman Emil Ekblom said that his goalie’s success allows his offense to be more aggressive on the attack.

“It gives us more confidence to know that he probably won’t let in any goals,” Ekblom said. “And if we score we are going to hold a lead.”

This was the case against the Pittsburgh Panthers Oct. 12, a team that was determined to play stout defense and take advantage of the few offensive opportunities in transition.

While the Orange struggled to capitalize on its opportunities, the aggression on offense was possible due to the consistency of Bono. The team can afford to take chances in attack mode, knowing that the man at the back end is one of the rising stars in the sport.

Head coach Ian McIntyre thinks Bono is on par with many of the elite goalkeepers in the conference. “Alex can come in traffic, he’s a big body,” McIntyre said. “He mops up a lot in the air and gives the back four a real confidence.”

As Bono walked off the field that night against Pitt, his facial expressions remained the same. He displayed a calm demeanor, something that helped him mature into a leader on this team.

He has two years remaining to determine what his legacy will be with the SU soccer program. If it’s up to him, his team will rise to the top and become champions.

“I want to win a national championship,” Bono said. “We don’t have the pressure of a Maryland or UNC to win every single year. But we’re a team that’s hungry to win and think that we can win.”

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