Each riding three-game undefeated streaks, UB Men’s and women’s soccer will both take to the turf at UB Stadium today looking to claim nonconference wins. The Men face off against Incarnate Word at 11:00 am and the Women against Navy at 1:30 PM.
Stu Riddle’s team is not only undefeated to start the season, but riding a three-game shutout streak, the first for the program since 2012 and the first to open a season since 1981, when Buffalo competed in the SUNYAC. UB has not opened a season with four wins since 2008 and has not strung together four shutouts since a five-game run that year, as well.
The Cardinals present an opportunity to extend that streak, outscored 6-0 in their first three games, all losses, to Oral Roberts, Southern Methodist, and Canisius. That said, Oral Roberts (one vote) and SMU (#25) each make appearances in the Week One NSCAA Coaches Poll.
Canisius is the best reference point for Incarnate Word, and the Golden Griffins claimed a 1-0 win Friday, outshooting the Cardinals 13-8 and only allowing a single shot on target in a physical battle. The Oral Roberts match was perhaps an unlucky 2-0 loss, as both Eagles goals came on set pieces in a chippy game with a half-dozen cards and in which IW doubled up ORU in shots.
IW doesn’t have many seniors on their roster, but are led in shots by upperclassmen midfielders Robert Pratt and Ben Conway. Goalie Joshua Blair allowed five goals on nine shots in the first two games, but was replaced by Jorge Guzman (one goal on five shots) against Canisius.
It’s not hard to build a narrative that IW can’t run with UB. They seem to have played without the ball a good deal this season and are susceptible to set pieces. But it’s also difficult to ignore the strength of schedule in their opening weekend. It’s still a game that UB should win, especially at home, but it might not be as easy as it looks given IW’s scorelines alone.
The Women are working on a pair of draws after getting their first win over St. Bonaventure, and though the goals haven’t come they’ve enjoyed long stretches of possession and dozens of shots against Binghamton and Brown.
Today’s match against Navy is probably a step up in opponent quality from the Bearcats and Bears, even though the Midshipmen are 1-3-1 on the season. The losses have come against #2 Stanford, TCU (in overtime), and North Carolina State, and Navy also claims a tie against UNC-Wilmington before beating Niagara 3-1 earlier this weekend.
UB likely has it in them to top the Purple Eagles by that margin as well, but we won’t learn that this year. TCU and Wilmington each received votes in the most recent NSCAA poll (though NC State, who beat Navy 4-1, does not appear), so it’s a good bet that Navy will be the toughest test for the Bulls since West Virginia.
Both of Navy’s leading scorers found the net in the win over Niagara. Junior forward Clare MacAdam scored in her third straight game, while freshman midfielder Cadie Higginson also tallied her third of the season. Junior forward Natalie Dzhandzhapanyan is the only other player with multiple shots on goal on the season.
Navy doesn’t generate many shots, and has particularly been victim to quick starts this season, outshot 42-16 and outscored 3-1 in the first half. If UB can find an easy goal, they may be able to weather an opponent that grows more comfortable as the game goes on and has a pair of impressive overtime showings.
UB will need to continue their strong possession play of late, and ideally (this would be true of any team) find more of a scoring touch, both in generating and converting quality chances.