In 2014, UB Men's Soccer sent four players to the NPSL ranks to play with FC Buffalo over the summer. Russell Cicerone, Marcus Hanson, Kristian Lee-Him, and Waleed Cassis all turned their summer work into productive years for the Bulls come fall.
This season, three Bulls will join the Blitzers, though all four of last year's representatives appear to have other plans. Lee-Him and Cassis are still eligible for the NPSL team, though Cassis is trying to levy an NASL camp invite with Ottawa Fury FC into a roster spot. There's nothing out there on Cicerone or Hanson yet.
UB's contribution to the local semi-pro team reflects the increasing character of the Bulls and their Kiwi head coach: goalie Cameron Hogg, center back Fox Slotemaker*, and forward Scott Doney all hail from New Zealand. Doney will represent the All Whites at this summer's FIFA U20 World Cup.
*Other than goals and winning, one of my favorite things about UB Soccer matches is hearing Hogg yell the name "Fox" over and over again.
Hogg will look to use the summer experience to jump into the driver's seat for the UB goalie position. With Cassis' graduation, Cameron seemed poised to step up, but transfer Joseph Kuta is expected to compete for time next season, as well. Last season in four games, Hogg surrender nine goals total, but had a higher SV% than Cassis tending goal behind UB's very young back line.
Slotemaker of course was part of that back line, which (to my eyes, at least) struggled at times during the year with the high line of the Bulls midfield, but also was a key part, along with the midfield, of the team's improvement over the course of the season.
Without getting too far into season preview-type material today, Slotemaker, Austin Place, Daniel Cramarossa, and Alec Fisher will be the key unit for UB next season. FC Buffalo fans, though, will hopefully find Slotemaker a solid player on the back line, positionally sound and a strong communicator.
The final member of the Bulls joining the Blitzers for the summer is forward Scott Doney. I know very little of him, as he just transferred to UB after a season at Marshall and a season away from college, but he's 6'5" and will hopefully boost both UB's and FC Buffalo's effectiveness on set pieces and crosses into the penalty area.
FC Buffalo also returns Brian Knapp, a UB soccer alum starting his third season with the local team. Knapp played with UB from 2003 to 2006 and is eighth all-time at Buffalo in assists. With FCB, he won the 2013 Unsung Hero award.
I hope to have a little better coverage of FCB over the summer than I did last year, along with updates on wherever Cicerone and Hanson end up.
For Our City!