If you just look at the numbers, tonight's 3-1 victory for Women's Soccer looks good, if unsurprising. UB has enjoyed two-goal wins a few times earlier in the season and have made a habit out of not allowing any goals. Today, however, was perhaps UB's best start-to-finish match of the season. It was certainly the best I've seen them play, and I haven't seen a loss yet.
Bowling Green came into tonight's match with the MAC's most porous defense, giving up an average of over two and a half goals per game, and leading the conference in saves. On one hand, hooray that you're goalie is that good, on the other, it could be even worse.
As you'd expect given Buffalo's strength in the midfield and forwards, UB controlled things early on. The degree towhich they dominated the Bowling Green back line, however, was surprising in its ferocity. After five minutes of back and forth play to favored the Bulls by a bit, Kassidy Kidd accepted a cross from Julia Benati in front of the box, stepped around a Bowling Green defender and popped it in for a 1-0 lead.
What followed was a full 14 minutes of Buffalo dominance. It's hard to put words to just how well UB attacked the Bowling Green defense, who really struggled to string two or three passes together. In the first 18 minutes, Buffalo had already managed seven shots on goal, and truly were unlucky to only lead 1-0. Katie Roberts, who leads the team in everything offensively and came into tonight with a three-game scoring streak, was twice stopped one-on-one on the Falcon's keeper.
Bowling Green didn't even get a sniff of offensive threat until the 20th minute, when Laura Dougall easily scooped up a weak shot from distance to reclaim possession. Unfortunately Coach Burke's usual subs shortly after the midpoint of the first half really killed the Bulls' momentum and turned a laugher into a muddled back-and-forth in which neither team was able to do much.
I'm a fan of Megan Abman and underclassmen Dana Lytle and Alex Lambert, but UB flows better when it's Kidd working up through the midfield to Carrero and Roberts, as they started the game. After getting seven shots on goal in the first 18 minutes, UB managed just one more over the rest of the half with the subs in. Buffalo wasn't unable to get the ball up, but didn't take shots, and consistently missed on passes deep in the zone.
Bowling Green joined Cornell as the only team to score on freshman Laura Dougall very late in the first half on a bit of a squibber. Whether the shot took a deflection or Dougall slipped on her way to it, it found the back of the net, and UB found itself tied despite deserving a lot more.
Fortunately, the second half was bar none UB's finest soccer of the year. Just about every three minutes UB was buzzing the Falcon net, while Bowling Green was lucky to possess the ball on UB's side, let alone get a shot off. I can't be certain, but I think Dougall only touched the ball twice in the entire half.
In the spree of UB offense, Roberts extended her streak with two goals in the 53rd and 71st minutes. The first came once again from Julia Benati when a Bowling Green defender missed the freshman's pass and Roberts was able to take it in alone, finally potting her third chance of the night. The second came on a very pretty cross from Dana Lytle that mirrored UB's first goal. Roberts was able to corral Lytle's pass, turn, and poke her shot home, all but icing things for Buffalo, who then owned a two-goal lead with under twenty minutes to play.
After Robert's second goal, not much changed in the final minutes. Bowling Green continued to struggle, and UB continued to get quality chances and control possession. At the final whistle, the 3-1 score had held with Buffalo coming away victorious on a rainy night on their home turf.
With the win, UB moves to 3-0 in the MAC for the first time since 1999. I like that and you should, too. Individually, Katie Roberts' brace gives her five in the last four games and ups her team lead to six. She has also now scored in four straight, and notched the game winner in three in a row.
UB will play again this Sunday at high noon, hosting Eastern Michigan in a divisional crossover match. EMU is traditionally one of the better teams in the MAC, and will be coming off a loss as they dropped a road match 2-1 to the Akron Zips. Go Bulls!