LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Paul Afful's diving header off a free kick 2:08 into overtime lifted St. Bonaventure to a 1-0 victory over Bucknell in the season-opener for both teams Friday night before a good crowd at Emmitt Field at Holmes Stadium. It was a tough start to the campaign for the Bison, who had seemingly taken over momentum of the game late in regulation, but two good chances were flicked aside by Bonnies goalkeeper Luke Iacobellis.
Bucknell game out aggressively on its home field and generated three corner kicks and a quality attempt from Matt Thorsheim in the first eight minutes of the match. St. Bonaventure controlled play for much of the second half, generating the first eight shots of the period, but Bison keeper Ryan Ott made five saves, and a back four featuring two freshmen and a sophomore held strong.
It appeared that the Bison might have worn down the Bonnies by the final stages of regulation, as the hosts started to generate their best chances of the night. With about 11 minutes remaining, Thorsheim and Nick King worked a nice combo at the top of the box, and King's low shot required a save from Iacobellis. Five minutes later, Iacobellis made the toughest of his five saves, a quick-reflex dive to deny Ben Derleth on a header from point-blank range.
Bucknell frantically scrambled for a throw-in as the clock wound under 10 seconds. Bernie Wright's long throw was flicked to the back post, and Quinn Bredin's header that was ticketed for the top-left corner had to be tipped over by Iacobellis with 0:02 remaining.
An unlucky foul 30 yards out set up the winning score. On the free kick, Anthony Gaglianese sent a left-footed inswinger into the box. As Ott charged out, Afful sprinted onto the delivery and got enough head on it to send it into the back of the net.
The Bonnies finished with a 14-10 shot advantage, and both teams attempted four corner kicks.
Three freshmen earned starts for the Bison on opening night. Stefan Gollisz and Eamon O'Connor manned the two outside back positions and played all 92 minutes, while Thorsheim started and played 84 minutes at center midfield. Wright, one of four sophomores in the starting lineup, also made his first career start.
Bucknell play at home again on Sunday, hosting Saint Francis (Pa.) at 5 p.m.