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2014 UB Women's Soccer Preview

Previewing the Bulls' first season under new head coach Shawn Burke.

Women's Soccer Head Coach Shawn Burke
Women's Soccer Head Coach Shawn Burke

After it was announced that previous head coach Michael Thomas would not be returning as head coach of the Buffalo Women's Soccer team, Danny White started a nationwide search for his next coach, but stayed close to home as longtime UB assistant Shawn Burke was hired on January 8th. Burke will be entering his first season as head coach of the Bulls and he has plenty of work to do to win a MAC Championship.

Key Departed Players

Burke's first season as head coach will be his first without his star pupil in goal, Ainsley Wheldon. Wheldon ended her UB career as one of the best goaltenders to walk onto the pitch for the Bulls, by finishing the top five in several career statistical categories including: wins (22), shutouts (20), and saves (385).

Also lost from last season was leading goal scorer Karen McMahon who accounted for 5 of the 14 UB goals scored last season, and 11 of UB's 35 points; and, Courtney Gross, a stalwart on the defensive side of the ball, starting all 18 games was lost to graduation as well.

Key Returning Players

Even with the departure of Wheldon and McMahon, the cupboard is anything but bare. Coach Burke will have eight players returning that started 10 or more games last season, and he will also return every Bulls who scored a goal or assist last season, save for Karen McMahon.

Leading the attack on offense for the Bulls will be returning senior midfielder Megan Giesen, who served as captain for the Bulls last season; her 2 goals for 4 points last season was good for second on the team. The former member of the MAC All-Freshman team will look to lead the Bulls on offense this season to make up for the loss of Karen McMahon.

Anchoring the back-line for the Bulls will be returning defenders Kristin Markiewicz, Sophie Therrien, and Jackie Hall. Markiewicz and Hall, both juniors, scored 4 points each on 1 goal and 2 assists each, good for a tie for third on the team. Both juniors will also return with a wealth of starting experience having started 18, and 16 games last season, respectively. Therrien, a senior, was a rock solid defender for the Bulls last season starting all 18 games and pitching in a goal and an assist.

2014 Newcomers

Women's soccer's four player recruiting class has stuck pretty close to home with 2 recruits coming in from Ontario, Canada, and the other 2 recruits hailing from Western New York.

UB Women's Soccer Incoming Freshmen
Name Position Hometown/Previous School
Laura Dougall GK Pickering, Ontario / Dunbarton
Julia Benati M Dorchester, Ontario / Lord Dorchester Secondary
Jessica Marlowe M/D Greece, NY / Greece Odyssey
Alexandra Lambert M/F Victor, NY / Victor

Because this year's team is senior-laden there weren't many scholarships to go around, but the Bulls pulled in quality players that will provide future starts and depth at each position.

2014 Schedule

Date Opponent Time Location
8/12 Cleveland State # 2:00 PM Cleveland, OH
8/17 Monroe College # 2:00 PM Amherst, NY
8/22 St. Bonaventure 7:00 PM Amherst, NY
8/24 Canisius 12:00 PM Amherst, NY
8/29 Duquesne 7:00 PM Pittsburgh, PA
8/31 Drexel 12:00 PM Amherst, NY
9/7 Niagara 7:00 PM Lewiston, NY
9/12 Virginia Tech 4:00 PM Blacksburg, VA
9/19 Cornell 4:00 PM Ithaca, NY
9/26 Kent State * 4:00 PM Kent, OH
9/28 Ohio * 1:00 PM Athens, OH
10/3 Bowling Green * 7:00 PM Amherst, NY
10/5 Eastern Michigan * 12:00 PM Amherst, NY
10/10 Northern Illinois * 7:00 PM DeKalb, IL
10/12 Western Michigan * 12:00 PM Amherst, NY
10/17 Central Michigan * 4:00 PM Mt. Pleasant, MI
10/19 Toledo * 1:00 PM Toledo, OH
10/24 Ball State * 5:00 PM Amherst, NY
10/26 Miami (OH) * 12:00 PM Amherst, NY
10/30 Akron * 3:00 PM Amherst, NY

# Indicates Exhibition Match, * Indicates MAC Match

The Bulls will start the season will two warmup games against Cleveland State and Monroe College before opening the regular season, and non-conference schedule against Big 4 rival St. Bonaventure at UB Stadium on August 22nd.

The rest of the non-conference schedule features match-ups against  Big 4 foes Canisius and Niagara, and in-state rival Cornell, to go along with a trip to Pittsburgh to face Duqesne and a home stand against the Drexel Dragons. However, the marquee match-up on the non-conference schedule is the September 12th bout against ACC power Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Tech finished out the 2013 regular season with an impressive 19-5-3 overall record and a 9-3-1 record in the ACC. The Hokies then went on to the NCAA tournament where they reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual runner-up Florida State. They also ended the season ranked 4th in the nation by the NSCAA Coaches Poll, and figure to rank highly again this season.

The Bulls will open up MACtion at the end of September finishing out a month long road trip with games against MAC East rivals Kent State and Ohio before returning home for match-ups with Bowling Green and defending MAC West champion Eastern Michigan. Then, on October 12th the Bulls play host to the defending MAC Champion Western Michigan Broncos in a noontime matinee. The Bulls will end the regular season on a three game home stand facing off against MAC runner-up Ball State, Miami(OH), and ending with a mid-afternoon match on Mischief Night against MAC East rival Akron.

Final Thoughts

First year head coach Shawn Burke will have a tough hill to climb if he wants to improve on the Bulls' 6-9-3 (3-7-1 MAC) mark from last season. The new head coach will need to rely on the plethora of veteran leadership on his squad to carry them to victories early in the season to build confidence and momentum, which will be key when going in to play Virginia Tech, and during the month long trip on the road in September.

Two of the keys to the Bulls' success both in non-conference play and during MAC play is making up for the losses of Ainsley Wheldon and Karen McMahon. If the Bulls can find a player that can score on a consistent basis, and have a goaltender that can be consistent, the Bulls will be in great shape because the back four is arguably one of the most experienced and talented in the MAC.

The Bulls begin the first of their two preseason contests a week from today when they travel to Cleveland to take on Cleveland State.