“Miguel DaSilva is like a piano player,” said Morrow. “Garret Pettis is a piano mover.”
Actually, Pettis plays both the ukulele and the guitar, but that’s another story.
This season Pettis, with a team-record setting 11 goals, and DaSilva with eight have been playing beautiful music with their feet for the Bisons. What Morrow means by his contrasting is that DaSilva uses his speed and quickness to elude the opposition’s defense. Pettis, 6-feet, 180 pounds, often uses a more direct approach by simply running over any defender in front of him.
“Miguel gets to balls he shouldn’t be able to get to,” said Morrow. “Garret has a good touch and can try to beat a defender with some skills, but he would just as soon run over you. There is nothing wrong with that.
“There is a physical aspect to the game that Garret brings that Miguel doesn’t necessarily bring. Garret is very opportunistic. He is better in the air than Miguel. Garret is strong and can hold his position in the air.”
They are two of the main reasons the Bisons are headed for their second straight Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament appearance this week. The Bisons, the No. 3 seed with a 5-3-1 A-Sun record (9-8-2 overall) will practice Tuesday at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., the host school for the tournament.
Wednesday afternoon they will face No. 6-seeded Mercer (1-5-3, 2-10-5 overall) at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals. If they win the Bisons will play again Thursday at 3 in the semifinals. Friday will be a day off with the championship game planned for Saturday.
“Miguel is very explosive and very fast,” said Morrow. “He is very tricky on the ball. He is going to create several chances a game. It doesn’t matter where Miguel is on the field the crowd starts to wonder what he is going to do now when he gets the ball.
“Garret can be very tricky on the ball as well. But when you look at Pettis he looks like a man, not like a freshman in college. He can mix it up physically. At this point he is more of a complementary player. He is not going to necessarily take on a whole team or outrun everybody. But he does finish his chances well.”
Last season Morrow predicted that DaSilva would probably have more assists than goals during his college career. At the time DaSilva was in the middle of a then record-setting season for goals, finishing with 10.
“I knew the amount of defensive pressure Miguel was going to draw,” said Morrow. “He is not a selfish player. This year he has ended up with a lot of assists.”
Teams keyed on DaSilva more this season, a decision that has hurt opponents as the Bisons have spread the goals around. Last season it was either DaSilva or former forward Ben Page doing most of the scoring. DaSilva has 10 assists this season, doubling the previous record set by Page. He also has a team record 26 points.
Pettis has an assist to go with his goals. He has 23 points, the second highest total in the history of the program.
The goals by Pettis have been somewhat of a surprise on all fronts. Morrow and assistant coach Kevin Burk saw Pettis play in a showcase at Disneyworld and liked what they saw.
“He reminded us a little bit of Ben Page,” said Morrow. “But he had this big robo-knee brace on and was coming off of an ACL.
“He was on the list, but he wasn’t high on our list. But the more we talked to coaches in the Pennsylvania area and sort of got a gauge of what was going on with him we found out Pettis should have been a top prospect.”
Morrow thought Pettis could have been a Big 10 or Atlantic Coast Conference recruit. But he had only competed in two major tournaments in his high school career. The lack of exposure hurt Pettis in the recruiting process even though Pennsylvania is known for top quality high school soccer.
“Most players usually compete in around 15 tournaments in high school,” said Morrow. “We felt fortunate to get him. We thought he was going to be better than what we saw. We just didn’t know what we were getting.”
They know now and they couldn’t be happier with what they have seen.