October 10th is nearly a month away, but the way things seem to go for UB's Men's Soccer team, we can expect a thrilling, come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over Western Michigan on that day.
Two weeks after earning their first win of the season over Bryant on a stunning goal to open the second overtime, UB once again treated their fans to a 3-2 game that featured two come-from-behind goals and a late winner. Tonight the victim for UB's second win of the season was the Detroit Titans from the Horizon League.
Cicerone - Berry - Hanson - Al-Kalisy
Cramarossa - Enstrom - Slotemaker - Place
(I realized just now that that's a lot easier than those MS Paint things I was doing before.)
I noticed two pretty significant parts of Stu Riddle's line up today. First, Dylan Cope got the start after (what I thought was) a strong performance off the bench at Canisius on Sunday. Secondly, UB is more and more using Marcus Hanson as their primary forward, because he can corral loose balls and hold opponents off. Though I listed Cicerone, Berry, and Al-Kalisy in a certain order, they were generally pretty fluid throughout. All four of the forward frequently dropped into the midfield, with Hanson frequently dropped the lowest.
Things didn't start too well for UB, who gave Detroit a foothold in the first five minutes and quickly gave up a series of corner kicks. On Detroit's third kick, they managed to put the ball in the back of the net just ten minutes into the match. It took the Bulls a few more minutes to recover from that first punch, but thanks to the motor of Marcus Hanson UB was able to build momentum in the attacking third and control the ball for as long as they wanted.
Of course, Waleed Cassis made several good saves when Detroit did threaten, though his finest work came on fewer shots in the second half. Just moments after one of his half-dozen saves in the first 45, though, Nicolai Berry was able to chip a ball over the Titan defense for Marcus Hanson to bring down and, after a couple touches, poke it past the Detroit keeper.
For the last fifteen minutes of the first half UB was firmly in control, and it certainly didn't seem like the 1-1 tie would last very long. Spiro Pilakas on the left was the lone threat for the Bulls, but he was mostly working alone when Detroit was able to get the ball into attack. Shockingly, the Titans managed a goal on the counterattack in the final ten seconds of the half to squash all that momentum, and we hit the break with UB down 2-1.
You know from above that UB scored two second-half goals to win the match 3-2, but the real stories of the second half were the stellar play of Waleed Cassis and just how chippy it got. I'll start with the latter.
They were no Canisius, but Detroit was extremely physical, especially in the second half, and not afraid the let the ref know when they disagreed with him. Unlike last Sunday in two regards, UB did not match their opponent's physicality, and was better off for it. On the match as a whole, the Titans were whistled for 21 fouls to UB's seven, and racked up four yellow cards to two from UB.
At some point in the second half, you could tell that Detroit was really getting rattled and unfocused, and something was about to happen. I was sitting in Section 205, and could hear every word their coach said to the ref (and he had something to say about every 45 seconds). Before long the Titans were complaining about every foul that went against them, and every embellishment on their end that fell on unsympathetic eyes.
In the 71st minute, things boiled over when UB earned a penalty kick after a foul in the box. I'm not sure if Detroit got a yellow for the initial foul, or for complaining after the fact, but after all was said and done the Titans had another caution and Russell Cicerone had his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
At that point, it was all over and just a question of how we were going to get there. It turns out 'How We Got There,' was very, VERY, entertaining. Just two minutes after Cicerone scored, the ref had finally had enough of the antics from the Detroit bench, and gave the Titans coach a red card and sent him away, presumably to their bus to think very hard about what he did.
Shortly after that, Kristian Lee-Him took in a pass from Cicerone and scored on a wonderful laser of a shot from well outside the box. Just watch this video starting at 1:46
Pretty swell, right?
The final ten minutes passed without incident, other than a few more excellent plays from Cassis, who officially only made five saves, but stopped several more scoring chances before the ball was immediately heading to the back of the net. He is without a doubt my man of the match.
On the whole, I was also impressed with the tactical play of the Bulls. Whether it was because the forwards were clearly more free-flowing, or some other reason, UB was able to build through the midfield much more steadily this night. They still relied on getting it up to a forward, holding the ball until everyone caught up, and then regrouping, but those passes to the front line were much shorter and less of a prayer than they had been in the last few matches.
UB will next play on Sunday afternoon, when they travel to Duquesne to face the Dukes at 4:00 PM. Go Bulls!