We continue our Senior Salute series with Women's Soccer, who recognizes eight seniors in today's noon match against Miami, a game that features the top two teams in the conference and is critical for MAC tournament seeding.
Jackie Hall - #5 - D
***We still have Jackie for one more year; she's just chosen to be recognized with her classmates today***
"Senior" Stats: I'm going to be saying this a few times in this post, but for Jackie Hall, it's not about the stats. Or rather, it's about stats that won't show up here, but on goaltender Laura Dougall's line. Hall has joined up with her fellow defenders; combinations of junior Kristin Markiewicz, sophomores Rachel Cook and Angel Hart, and fellow senior Sophie Therien to form one of the top defenses in the MAC. Only four opponents have scored on UB, and five of Buffalo's ten goals allowed came in one game to a nationally ranked opponent.
In individual stats that we are able to directly measure, Jackie does have a goal on the season, and a knack for getting the ball on net; over two-thirds of her shots have been on target.
Before UB: The Blue and White wasn't anything new for Hall, who starred for the Blue and White of Brunswick in her high school days. She was a five-year starter for the Brunswick Devils and four time first-team all-conference honoree, and earned accolades even then for the hard-nosed play that has made her one of the top defenders in the MAC. Hall played a year at Cuyahoga Community College before making her way to Buffalo, though that article makes note of her commitment to the Bulls.
Career at UB: After making small, but reliable contributions in her freshman year, Hall lost nearly all of her sophomore year to injury. The resultant redshirt means she has one more year, but she's coming out to be honored and celebrated with her class today nonetheless.
Anyway, Hall's last two years in Amherst have been stellar. In that time she has started in all but two games midway through the 2013 season, and as I said above, been a part of a truly excellent defense. She had scored one goal and two assists last year before adding to that total this autumn.
"Senior" Moment: For as well as the defense has played this year, I looked at the stats and figured I would pick back through my memory for a great defensive play rather than automatically give it to the lone score.
I figured wrong. Hall's one goal was a big one: the game-winner in that chippy 2-0 win over Niagara, when Hall's head found the ball on a long, long, outswinging free kick from Sophie Therien and popped it in. For that goal and its instrumental contribution to a victory over Niagara, I can only say: Thank You, Jackie. Really, Thank You.
Katie Roberts - #8 - F
Senior Stats: Roberts' bio page on ubbulls.com identified her as UB's 'most consistent offensive threat' in 2013, despite the then-junior tallying just a single goal. In 2014, there's no doubt about it. Until a recent spurt by sophomore Celina Carrero, Roberts was the leading scorer on the team by a long shot, thanks to a six-goals-in-five-games streak that saw her score the game winner in three straight.
A big part of Roberts' seven goals is thanks to her ability to get a majority of shots on net. I know that .545 doesn't look as good when Jackie Hall had .700 up above, but trust me, Roberts' ability to get to loose balls and create a quality shot when others wouldn't is uncanny.
Before UB: Katie starred - and I do mean starred - for the Cloverleaf Colts in high school. After scoring four goals in a match her sophomore year, a local newspaper was forced to ask "How good is Cloverleaf's Katie Roberts?" At the end of that season she was named All-Ohio 2nd Team, and made it to the 1st Team in both her junior - when she scored THIRTY goals - and senior seasons, finishing her career with 83 career tallies.
Career at UB: #8 has been a standout from her first minutes at Buffalo. Prior to her one goal junior season, Roberts led the Bulls in goals in both her freshman and sophomore years and all told had 11 scores as a Bull prior to this season, five of which holding up as game-winners.
Senior Moment: Full disclosure: I typed this post in advance of Friday's game against Ball State. Here's Katie's original senior moment:
How can it be one moment? How can it be anything but that five-game run, starting with a late goal to draw even with Cornell on 19 September, and continuing to a nail-in-the-coffin goal off an EMU turnover on 5 October. In between the two, Roberts opened the scoring in shutouts against Kent State and Ohio, which held UB off the scoreboard for 106 minutes before relenting, and was the centerpiece of a truly dominant second half against Bowling Green, scoring twice to put the game out of reach. Of that streak, I only saw EMU and Bowling Green, but Roberts could easily have had three or four in each game.
I knew I would probably have to make a change to somebody after Friday's game, and here it is: Katie's senior moment has got to be her 70th minute goal that dragged Ball State kicking (hah!) and screaming into overtime, combined with her 93rd minute penalty kick that sent the Cardinals home
Sophie Therien - #17 - D
Senior Stats: See everything I said above about Hall. She and Therien have been the stalwart middle, along with senior defensive midfielder Courtney Mann, of the Buffalo defense that completely shuts down opponents and has their goaltender and team on the cusp of a number of school and conference records. Sometimes, just when the opponent is starting to build some pressure, Therien will get the ball on her feet and take it herself into the midfield, as if to remind everyone who's in charge.
Therien is also the team's go-to option for free kicks, another part of her game that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Her lone point of the season came on that memorable free-kick-to-Jackie-Hall's-head-to-the-net goal against Niagara.
Before UB: Therien played for Shattuck St. Mary's boarding school during her prep years, but was also a part of the Canadian National Team program throughout, as well, competing in ten matches for her home country in all, including a full 90 minutes in the CONCACAF U-17 Final.
Career at UB: The UB bio description for Sophie's freshman year reads remarkably similar to the player we see on the pitch game in and game out in this, her senior season. Therien started her career in the Blue and White with a bang, scoring the double-overtime gamewinner in her first ever game, the season opener against Binghamton. In her entire career she has only missed a handful of games her sophomore year and has started every game since the beginning of her junior season.
Senior Moment: I could of course go again with that goal against Niagara, because I really, really, don't like Niagara. But for Therien I can think of no better lasting memory than a spectacular clearance against EMU. Though the Bulls were controlling the game, Katie Roberts had not yet scored the insurance tally and EMU had their second corner kick in just a few minutes. Somehow Laura Dougall got caught both off her line and away from the ball, which was heading towards the net. Both Therien and Angel Hart were there, however, and UB maintained the shutout in the eventual 2-0 victory.
Megan Abman - #19 - F
Senior Stats: Abman this season has appeared in all but one match for UB, and is reliably one of Coach Shawn Burke's mid-first half subs, when he mixes up his forward and wing combos midway through each first half. Abman plays forward with a physical, grinding pace that always puts in open holes in the defense, and it's not surprising that each of her three goals have come in the final twelve minutes of the first half.
Before UB: Abman is Women's Soccer's furthest-flung student-athlete, having played her prep soccer at the Colorado academy and enjoying time in the Colorado Olympic Development Program. She was named to the All-Colorado 3A team by the Denver Post after her senior season.
Career at UB: Abman missed her would-be sophomore season to injury after just two games, but has otherwise appeared in every Buffalo match during her career except for this year's contest against Ohio, and tallied five goals in her three seasons (and two games). Like Therien and Roberts, she stepped in immediately for Buffalo, tying for the team lead with three goals in eight starts in her freshman season.
Senior Moment: As I said above, all three of Abman's goals have come in the first half. Surprisingly, none have been game winners. Twice she's had the second goal in a shutout, and her goal against WMU gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead, but in a match that ended a 1-1 tie.
Given that, I'm going to go with her goal against Canisius, the second goal in a 2-0 win, a goal scored just seconds before the end of the first half. Though there were still 45 minutes to play, the score from #19 iced away a season-opening weekend sweep of two Big Four rivals in St. Bonaventure and Canisius.
Megan Giesen - #21 - M
Senior Stats: Megan has played in all of UB's matches this year, with her lone point coming on Celina Carrero's late insurance goal against Niagara. Despite the lack of stats, Giesen has, like just about everyone else, been a critical part of UB's uber-successful team defense. I can think of nearly a half-dozen games where UB's opponent could barely get the ball over midfield reliably, and that's in no small part thanks to Giesen, Courtney Mann, and UB's other midfield defenders and their controlled aggression on defense.
Before UB: Giesen's Ohio based prep career was absolutely full of accolades. Her Cleveland FC club team won their regional championship in 2009 with Giesen starting at central midfielder, and at Strongsville High School she was a three-time starter and 1st Team All-Conference player, who also traveled to Europe to represent the USA with the 93 Olympic Regional II team.
Career at UB: With appearances in UB's final three games this season, Giesen will crack 18 games played for the fourth consecutive season as a Bull, despite a season-ending injury late in her sophomore year. All told, she earned 35 starts and four goals with a handful of assists in her first three years.
Senior Moment: Like Sophie Therien, it's not her role in a goal against Niagara, that I'll remember most from Giesen this season, but a moment that best exemplifies her role on the team over the whole season. Buffalo's season-opening match against St. Bonaventure was the lone game this year in which Giesen did not start, but her entrance in the 25th minute settled down what had been to that point a sloppy and visibly nervous midfield that struggled to string passes together. Looking back on the season, that's what you'll find in Giesen, a player consistently and calmly in the middle of things, helping UB lock it all down.
Courtney Mann - #22 - M
Senior Stats: Mann is listed as a midfielder, but she and fellow senior Megan Giesen have played in a high-low arrangement for much of the season. As Giesen is usually one of first players to touch the ball as it heads up to the opposing net, Mann is usually one of the first to touch it and keep it from heading to Buffalo's. When I've complimented the backline this year I've usually tried to remember Courtney in that group, because she cuts off just as many opportunities as the listed defenders.
As you'd expect, Mann is another senior with few offensive stats, but I frankly think the most impressive number here is just three yellow cards on the season. For how stifling UB's defense is, I would almost expect the point person of the D to have more cautions, but just three for Mann shows just how excellent the team has been; that they're not stopping goals with overt physicality, but rather by being faster and more skilled.
Before UB: Courtney is a Buffalonian by birth and not just by college, as she played six years of varsity soccer for Frontier High School, and also won state and national championships with her club team during those prep years. She is a three time All-State honoree whose most critical pre-Buffalo moment came when she chose UB over both Niagara and Canisius.
Career at UB: Courtney is yet another senior honoree who stepped in immediately as a freshman; she was one of just two Bulls that year to play all 19 games. Over her career, Mann has bounced between midfield and forward, defense and attacking roles, and accumulated three goals over the course of her sophomore and junior years.
Senior Moment: Of course, there are still two games (plus the MAC tournament, he whispers while knocking on wood) left in the season, so the best may yet be to come, but I have to go with Mann's assist in UB's game a week ago. Lately UB - and specifically Celina Carrero - have made a habit of scoring early and ending the whole game before it really starts. Against Toledo it was Mann with a pretty pass into the forward for the goal and the 1-0 lead over the Rockets.
Sarah Moore - #27 - GK
Senior Stats: Sarah hasn't played this season :-(
Before UB: Moore is another local who starred in the ECIC, earning first-team all-conference honors her senior year for Orchard Park after allowing just five goals all season. With her in net the Quakers were ranked in the state Top 20 at season's end.
Career at UB: Sarah has only seen action in one season of her UB career, when in her sophomore year she got one start, a 1-1 tie with NIU, and two more appearances in relief.
Senior Moment: Moore hasn't played this year, but I hope that her recognition today and final games at UB Stadium are a good memory and proper send off for four years of commitment to the team.
McKenzie White - #28 - GK
Senior Stats: McKenzie has also not played in any games this season :-(
Before UB: White was a teammate of Sophie Therien's at Shattuck St. Mary's, where she was the team captain from the net for two seasons and was named the team MVP at the end of her senior year.
Career at UB: Like Sarah Moore, McKenzie has only seen action in three games within one season in her career, serving as backup goalie during her freshman season in 2011. If not for her three scoreless appearances in that season, the 2014 team would already own the the single season school record for shutouts as a team, as two of her three appearances preserved shutouts as the 2011 team racked up twelve on the season.
Senior Moment: Again, like Sarah Moore, I hope that White's recognition today is a positive experience and that she leaves UB knowing that the program and its fans appreciate her four years of commitment to the program.
With seven seniors leaving the team, Women's Soccer has the fourth-largest graduating class of UB's teams, behind the much larger Football, Rowing, and Track and Field teams. If I may editorialize for a moment, this team's season has been nothing short of thrilling and a joy to follow. For me personally, I can only think of two or three teams across all UB sports that have been as consistently excited as this one. None have been as dominant in MAC play.
If you're reading this with time to get to UB Stadium at noon today, I urge you to come. If not, today is thankfully not the last game of the season, nor is it the last goodbye to these seniors or the team.
Most importantly, thank you Katie, Sophie, Megan, Megan, Courtney, Sarah, and McKenzie for your time in Buffalo. And thank you Jackie for your time and in advance for next year!