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Buffalo Women's Soccer Weekend Preview: Bulls travel for critical road matches against Miami, Ball State

UB Athletics

UB's in a tough spot despite their improved play. Right now clinging to a home quarterfinal position by just a single point over Kent State and three over Central Michigan, they're the lone team among the top six to still have two games against the lead pack. They're both this weekend, and they're both on the road. Click through in the sidebar for our rooting interests around the MAC and the standings implications of today.

Miami (9-5-1, 5-2-1 MAC)

Friday, 23 October; 3:00 PM 
Oxford, OH

All-time series: Miami, 14-3-2
Last Meeting: Buffalo, 2-0; 26 October 2014
2015 Common Opponents: The MAC 
Streams: I don't think so. 
Live Stats: Live stats available here.

RedHawks Player to Watch: Junior G Vic Maniaci

Miami only scored a pair of goals in their last four games, which includes 2 OTs, and have only scored 17 on the season. They've been outshot and out-cornered, and have committed more fouls, but are putting up defensive numbers like Buffalo did last year without controlling possession like the Bulls did thanks to players like Kat Zalar and Maniaci, who boasts an .858 save percentage and is allowing only .62 goals per game. I don't think we'll have a live broadcast for this one, and that's a shame.

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Miami has been slipping lately, and UB got a bigtime gift from Northern Illinois last weekend when the Huskies fought the RedHawks to a 0-0 draw. On the other side, Buffalo is peaking in a big way and scoring more goals than anyone else in the conference (except for maybe whoever is playing Toledo). This game is absolutely critical for the Bulls not so much for their standings respective to Miami, but moreso for their place compared to Central Michigan and Kent State, who play each other today. Kent State with a win can jump the loser of UB's game, while CMU can pull into a tie.

UB's hot streak has come at home, and it's come against weaker opponents. A road result against one of the conference's best would go a long way for our confidence.

Ball State (11-3-2, 7-1-0 MAC)

Sunday, 25 October; 2:00 PM 
Muncie, IN

All-time series: Buffalo, 8-7-2
Last Meeting: Buffalo 2-1 (2OT); 7 November 2014
2015 Common Opponents: The MAC
Streams: Audio available.
Live Stats: Yes.

Cardinals Player to Watch: Senior M/F Chelsy Swackhamer

Swackhamer wouldn't have been the player I'd pick - despite leading the Cardinals with eight goals and three assist -until last week's Ball State loss when she took a straight red card in overtime for kicking a Western Michigan player behind the play. Only Ball State can make Western Michigan look sympathetic. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they play the Cardinals second this week and Swackhamer will likely be in the lineup

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If not for Swackhamer, I'd be talking more about the Cardinals defense, which has been absolutely dominant in MAC play. The loss against Western Michigan was their first in nine games, and that's thanks to a physical style of play that's gotten better from last year's team that twice pushed UB into overtime. I won't even throw the numbers out, just know that they're terribly good. Buffalo will need the same brand of midfield play they found after the half in both wins last year -- expect big minutes from Andrea Niper and Moira Petrie.