For the first time in a while, both UB Soccer teams were in action at the same time tonight, one at home in the friendly confines of UB Stadium, and the other all the way across the MAC footprint in DeKalb, Illinois. Neither finished the night with a win, but both earned draws from their opponents to enjoy an undefeated Friday.
Coming off an impressive pair of home wins last weekend, Women's Soccer traveled to face off with the Northern Illinois Huskies, who came into tonight with a 3-0-1 MAC record that was good enough to first place in the West Division and nearly matched UB's East Division-leading 4-0-0 mark.
There's not a whole lot to say about the 0-0 tie with the Huskies except that Northern Illinois was frankly fortunate to hold serve on their home turf. Buffalo controlled the game beginning to end, peppering 19 shots, seven of them on target, at NIU goalie Amy Annala. Three of Annala's seven saves came in the final four minutes of the game and UB turned up the pressure.
On the flip side, UB freshman goalkeeper Laura Dougall was only forced to make three saves, and none in the final hour of gameplay on her way to her eighth shutout of the season. Those eight shutouts already bring Dougall into a tie for second in the program single-season record books, and certainly within shouting distance of Ainsley Wheldon's school record of ten.
Kassidy Kidd was the driver for UB's offense today, accounting for over a third of Buffalo's 19 shots, including one of the dangerous opportunities late in the second overtime. Once again, Buffalo's back line held firm: Shawn Burke's defense has now allowed five or fewer shots on goal in eight of 12 games this season.
The ladies will come back home and play again this weekend in a Sunday match at noon against Western Michigan. The Broncos are now 9-5-0 after outshooting Akron 19-4 (though only two shots were on target) en route to a 1-0 victory over Akron this evening.
Looking to get their MAC season started on the right foot, the Men's Soccer team welcomed Western Michigan to UB Stadium this evening. WMU is a quality opponent, coming into today with a 6-3-2 record and RPI of 116 compared to Buffalo's 3-7-0 and 164. Both teams, however, are 0-0-1 in conference play after playing to a 2-2 draw in Amherst.
The first half was all Bronco, both in skill and luck. First, skill: The visitors scored first in the 22nd minute, when Hunter Vandenboom knocked home a corner kick. Then, luck: in the 40th minute Waleed Cassis was caught off-guard by a deflected crossing pass that went for an own goal and gave WMU a 2-0 lead heading into the half.
UB has made a habit of coming out of the half strong and playing higher-quality soccer later in the match, and tonight was no different. Buffalo put together a second half that saw them outshoot the Broncos 11-1 and earn praise from head coach Stu Riddle, who called it "hands down the best performance a team of mine has put together in my 18 months here at UB."
With just ten minutes to go, UB still trailed, but was able to get one back in the 84th minute, when Ryan Pereira sent a cross into the penalty area for Austin Place to clean up and bring the Bulls within one. It was the first assist and goal of the season for both Pereira and Place.
UB still trailed with a minute to go before Western Michigan committed a handball in their own penalty area, gifting the Bulls a penalty kick with just 15 seconds left. Sophomore and leading scorer Russell Cicerone was stopped on his initial attempt, but scored on the rebound to bring UB to a 2-2 tie and force overtime. Three of Cicerone's seven goals this season have come on or immediate as a result of penalty kicks.
The run of play was more even in the overtime periods, and perhaps slightly favored the Broncos, but UB was able to hold steady for the draw and a result in their first match of the five-game MAC slate. I mentioned in last week's Olympic Weekend Roundup that Buffalo has pretty similar stats to its opponents everywhere but shooting percentage and save percentage. Tonight was no different, as UB's two goals came on ten shots on goal, while WMU scored twice despite just three on target.
The men will not play again this weekend, but do travel to Lafayette on Tuesday for a 6:00 PM match against the Leopards.