What: #21 Hofstra University vs. Drexel
When: Saturday January 31st, 2009
Time: 4pm EST
Where: Daskalaskis Athletic Center (Philadelphia, PA)
The Matchup: Steve Bonanno (HU) vs. Michael Gomez (Drexel)
Synopsis: In a battle of Long Island natives, (Bonanno from Wantagh; Gomez from Locust Valley) the smart money has to be on the true freshman, Bonanno. Depending on how his first match of the day, against UPenn’s Rollie Peterkin, goes, Boanno will either be riding an adreneline rush from a big win, or will be hungry to return to his name back into the win column. Either way, I wouldn’t like this matchup if I was the Drexel coaching staff. Entering the match with an overall record of only 5-11, Gomez may find that he is simply outmatched by the 2008 NYS Champion, Bonanno. This is a battle of the #2 vs. #6 wrestlers in the conference. Therefore, should Gomez pick today to have the match of his life, and is successful in being the upset, the win should do him wonders with regard to seeding at the CAA tournament. However, as much as I like Gomez (watched him all throughout high school), my gut tells me that Bonanno may prove to be too strong in all three positions. If Bonanno is able to score the opening takedown, look for him to go to move on top, putting on a tilting display, ala Jake Patacsil from Purdue. If Gomez can afford surrendering bonus points in this dual, I think Coach Childs will be pleased with the effort.
Prediction: Bonanno Wins by Major Decision
Projected Team Score: 4-0 Hofstra
Result: Bonanno (HU) MD Gomez (DU), 12-3
The Matchup: #9 Lou Ruggirello (HU) vs. Frank Cimato (Drexel)
Synopsis: Despite one coming into this dual with a 4-0 conference record, and the other a 3-1 record, this matchup will not be nearly as close as the numbers may suggest. Without trying to sound too high and mighty, Ruggirello is simply in a different league (proverbially, not literally—Both are in the CAA) than his Dragon opponent. Entering the dual with a .500 record on the season (9-9) Cimato’s finds himself ranked fifth in the Colonial. 2x Conference champion, Ruggirello, counters with a 19-3 record, with 14 of his victories coming by way of pin. Hence, when taking the mat against the CAA’s top ranked wrestler, Cimato will need to be very careful. The longer this match can remain in neutral, the better it will be for Drexel. While I would never endorse stalling as a tactic, perhaps it would be in the best interest of Cimato if he can slow the pace down and try to keep this final to something in the area of 8-2, 9-3. When given his choice, it should be a no brainer for Cimato to elect to start either from top or from the feet. As many wrestlers with better resumes than Cimato have learned, going down against “the King” is the perfect way to find yourself staring at the arena lights. Lou is deadly with his double bars, and if given the opportunity, should have no trouble putting them on and finishing this one early. With Cimato currently sitting in the #5 spot in the recent CAA rankings, this bout could be a preview of an eventual conference tournament quarterfinal.
Prediction: Ruggirello Wins by Fall
Projected Team Score: 10-0 Hofstra
Result: Ruggirello (HU) WTF Cimato (DU) 6:22
The Matchup: Justin Accordino (HU) vs. Matt Dugan (Drexel)
Synopsis: One of Drexel’s most dangerous wrestlers, Matt Dugan will take to the mat on Saturday with a less than spectacular overall record of 12-15. Yet, despite the sub .500 record, it is important to note that the Dragon freshman has already notched nine bonus point wins this season (3 MD, 5 TF, I WBF). Hence, if nothing else, he certainly has demonstrated an ability to score points and/or put opponents on their backs. Accordino himself is no stranger to giving his foes a wonderful view of the ceiling, relying on his bread and butter cement mixer to end many an afternoon early for those who dare lock up with him. This is the first bout of the afternoon that does not involve two confererence ranked wrestlers. While Accordino is sitting comfortably in the #2 spot, Dugan has yet to receive respect from the powers that be. Because I do not want to get in the habit of giving bonus points to HU in every bout that is wrestled, I will be conservative here and say that Accordino just misses a major decision, taking this one easily after fighting for all seven minutes against UPenn’s Rappo in his first match of the day.
Prediction: Accordino Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 13-0 Hofstra
Result: Accordino (HU) Pinned Dugan (DU) 2:30
The Matchup: P.J. Gilespie (HU) vs. Robert Robinson (Drexel)
Synopsis: In the preview for the UPenn dual, I indicated that there was a strong chance that the freshman from Long Beach would not be in the lineup today. Unfortunately, after looking over the numbers for Drexel’s Robert Robinson, I concluded that it may not matter who the Pride sends out there to compete at 149. This is very much a weak spot for the Dragons, as Robinson remain winless in the conference (0-5) and has not fared much better outside of it (5-19 overall). Not being the biggest scorer on the HU roster, if it is Gillespie, I think he will challenge for bonus points against Robinson, but will have to settle for a very one-sided decision. Assuming that P.J. is out of the lineup, I would expect that either Rotella or O’Brien would be able to capable of keeping the shutout in tact. However, I do think it will require some solid effort on their part. If it is Rotella who gets the call, then it would seemingly shape up to be a very competitive contest as each man has a win by fall over common opponent, Jake Villaret from Wagner.
Prediction: Gillespie Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 16-0 Hofstra
Result: Robinson (DU) Dec Rotella (HU), 9-5
The Matchup: #17 Jon Bonilla-Bowman (HU) vs. Billy Haydt (Drexel)
Synopsis: Without question, the best match of the first half, 157 will pit defending conference champion and current #17 wrestler in the nation, Jon Bonilla-Bowman against one of the Dragon’s most experienced and lethal wrestlers in the person of Billy Haydt. Nicknamed the “Concrete Kid” Haydt has shown time and time again that he is a threat to land a cement mixer at anytime in any situation during the course of a match. Two years ago, I remember Haydt hitting the big move on former Pride wrestler, Mike Patrovich in a CAA tournament bout. While Patrovich would get off of his back and cruise to victory, those 15-20 seconds stuck in my head. Bonilla-Bowman is the far superior wrestler from his feet. If he is able to open up early, this bout could quickly develop into a takedown clinic for the always attacking junior from Pomona, NY. However, as we saw in the 141-pound final of the Keen Invitational between Corey Jantzen and Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh), a man with a cement mixer in his back pocket is just as dangerous when down 10 points as he is down one or two. Therefore, regardless of the score, JBB better be mindful of who he is up against. One split second of lost concetration could turn this match around in a hurry. Having competed in only one CAA match thus far in 2009, Haydt comes into this bout unranked in conference. However, as was evident by his third place finish in 2007, he’s someone to be taken quite seriously.
Prediction: Bonilla-Bowman Wins by Major Decision
Projected Team Score: 20-0 Hofstra
Result: Bonilla-Bowman(HU) WTF4 Haydt (DU) 25-9