What: #23 Hofstra University vs. #13 Edinboro University
When: Saturday February 14th, 2009
Time: 7pm EST
Where: McComb Fieldhouse (Edinboro, PA)
The Matchup: #20 Steve Bonanno (HU) vs. #1 Paul Donahoe (Edinboro)
Synopsis: These two met at the Mat Town Classic back in November. In this matchup, it was the 2007 NCAA Champion, Donahoe, who got his hand raised, beating the true freshman from Wantagh 9-4. A lot of time has passed since that matchup and Bonanno has made amazing strides in his development. While Bonanno is coming off of a 10-2 MD loss to Cornell’s Troy Nickerson, the truth is that despite the one-sided score, the HU frosh did a good job for most of the match of tieing up Nickerson. More importantly, Bonanno showed that while he continues to struggle to get off bottom, he does have the ability to avoid getting tilted by excellent top guys. Like Nickerson, Donahoe is extremely dangerous when he gets the chance to work from the top position. Therefore, if HU wants to avoid surrendering bonus points early, it will be imperative that Bonanno be able to stay off of his back. The #1 ranked wrestler in the land, Donahoe, is undefeated this season and it is likely to stay that way. In addition to superior experience, Donahoe should be the quicker man from neutral. Hence, it is to be expected that he will win the battle from the feet. For the most part, given the extent of his opponent’s resume, I don’t feel that Bonanno needs to win this match to be considered a winner. With the postseason not far away, a solid performance against en elite caliber wrestler like Donahoe should serve as a confidence booster. Measuring a few common opponents, Donahoe has wins over UPenn’s Rollie Peterkin and Kent State’s Nic Bedelyon, two wrestlers who own victories over Bonanno. Donahoe has scored bonus points in 19 of 25 bouts this season. Hence, if Bonanno is able to keep this match within seven points, it will further show how far he has come in such a short period of time.
Prediction: Donahoe Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 3-0 Edinboro
Result: Donahoe (Edinboro) Dec Bonanno (HU), 8-3
The Matchup: #8 Lou Ruggirello (HU) vs. #19 Ricky Deubel (Edinboro)
Synopsis: The last time these top-20 wrestlers met, it was the Fighting Scot, Deubel who got the better of the exchange, winning 2-1 to claim the title at the Southern Scuffle. Last season, Ruggirello did defeat Deubel multiple times, including once by pin. Therefore, if Lou is able to secure the first takedown, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he will be able to work his double bars for a quick pin. But, with the only meeting this season resulting in a loss, it would be biased and misleading to predict anything other than a down to the wire decision that could potential go either way. Ruggirello enters the dual with a much more impressive record on the year, 22-3 vs. 22-9. Comparing common opponents in the persons of Whitt Dunning (Army) and Tim Haas (Penn State), the Pride junior has bonus point victories over both, while Deubel has suffered losses to each. If this was a tournament match and not a dual match, I might be tempted to give the edge to Deubel because of Ruggirello’s struggles to finish tournament strong. However, in dual play, there are few wrestlers in the country who are as reliable as Ruggirello, as evident by his 12-1 record this season (only loss coming to Reece Humphrey of Ohio State).
Prediction: Ruggirello Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 3-3
Result: Ruggirello (HU) Dec Deubel (Edinboro), 5-0
The Matchup: Justin Accordino (HU) vs. Joel Webster (Edinboro)
Synopsis: As is an ongoing pattern so far in this dual, Accordino and Webster also have a previous meeting this season. And, again it is the Fighting Scot wrestler who found himself on the winning end of it. Back in December, Webster won a 2-1 decision in the consolation rounds of the Southern Scuffle to send the RS freshman from Wilkes-Barre to the showers early. Since that loss, Accordino has remained extremely erratic, going 5-4 in his previous nine bouts. Webster, who took at least one year off from the sport before returning in 2008/2009 has been rather up and down himself. Sporting a fairly decent 17-9 overall record, the EU wrestler does have a win over 2008 National Champion, J. Jaggers (Ohio State), but also has a few less than pleasing losses to the likes of Fred Rodgers (Rider) and 2x Adin Deunas (Cal State Fullerton). Webster will take to the mat looking to snap a two match losing streak. To me, having observed Accordino quite a few times the past few weeks, it appears that the Keystone Stater has forgotten to utilize the fundamentals. Instead of setting up solid single and double-legs, Accordino has gotten into the habit of looking for the big move. While a pin is certainly nice, one cannot place all of their eggs in the same basket. If the cement mixer is there, then by all means, hit me. But, if not, there is nothing wrong with winning a decision. In a dual where the Pride are expected to be underdogs in seven of the 10 bouts, a win at 141 is incredibly necessary to avoid having the match get out of hand quickly. I predicted that Accordino would beat Webster at the Southern Scuffle and I am holding to my believe. I am predicting Accordino in a low scoring decision.
Prediction: Accordino Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 6-3 Hofstra
Result: Accordino (HU) Dec Waite (Edinboro), 9-4
The Matchup: Jeff Rotella (HU) vs. Torsten Gillespie (Edinboro)
Synopsis: While I have not yet confirmed that P.J. Gillespie will remain sidelined with a shoulder injury, I am playing it safe and making my prediction with an assumption that he will not be ready to go for the Pride. Unfortunately, no Gillespie for HU means that one would have to consider 149 to be a spot where Edinboro has the potential to score bonus points. Rotella, usually a 133 pounder, has been forced to take one for the team by competing up two weight classes. Thus far, he is experiencing his fair share of lumps, going 0-2 at the weight, including a pin loss to UPenn’s Cesar Grajales. At 23-13, Torsten Gillespie is having a solid, if not good year in his true sophomore campaign. Having made appearances in the national top-20 this season, it is hard to question Gillespie’s talent. He is considered to be an above average mat wrestler, which is not good for an undersized opponent who is likely to struggle to get out from underneath. Having only earned four pins in 36 bouts this season, I would not consider the younger of the two Gillespie siblings on the EU roster to be a serious pinning threat. Yet, if his tilting ability is even half as good as older brother, Gregor’s, this bout is headed for at least a major, if not a technical fall. Before eventually getting pinned by Grajales, Rotella looked to be well on his way to holding the bout to a four point team loss. Hence, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he again keeps it to within an 8-14 point margin….If P.J. Gillespie is back for HU, it is important to note that he dropped a 5-4 decision to Torsten at the Oklahoma Gold Classic. Thus, he would still need to be considered an underdog. However, bonus points likely not figure into the equation for Edinboro.
Prediction: Gillespie Wins By Major Decision
Projected Team Score: 7-6 Edinboro
Result: T. Gillespie (Edinboro) TF Rotella (HU), 17-2 5:14
The Matchup: Fran O’Brien (HU) vs. #1 Gregor Gillespie (Edinboro)
Synopsis: Having spoken to Jon Bonilla-Bowman earlier in the week, my impression is that he will be out this weekend with the intention of trying to return to the mat next Monday. Since I would not want the Pride to pull Chris Servian out of RS, my hope is that Coach Shifflet elects to use Fran O’Brien. While it is true that in his last outing, O’Brien was less than stellar, getting pinned in 2:06 by Cornell’s DJ Meagher, the truth is that regardless of who the Pride sends out against the #1 ranked wrestler in the land, bonus points are a lock. In fact, even if JBB was healthy, one would be forced to concede that Gillespie would be a threat to score bonus points given the two wrestlers’ history. In a nutshell, this is how I see this match going. Gillespie will score almost immediately with a low single. Then, being the beast that he is from top, he will put on a tilting clinic, securing the technical fall before the conclusion of the first period. If this sounds very pessimistic, it is not meant to. I’ve seen the 2007 National Champion do this to a lot of talented wrestlers. When you take into account that O’Brien is going to be small for the weight, one cannot hold it against him if he is unable to survive Gillespie’s unending series of tilt attempts. If Edinboro’s soon to be all-time wins leader was more of a pinner, I’d say the Fighting Scot get six here. But, since Gregor seems to prefer techs over pins, I’ll leave it at five team points for EU.
Prediction: Gillespie Wins by Tech. Fall
Projected Team Score: 12-6 Edinboro
Result: G. Gillespie (Edinboro) Pinned O’Brien (HU) 3:59