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Buffalo Men's Soccer tops Western Michigan in MAC Semifinals behind yet another Russell Cicerone wondergoal

UB Athletics

Who else? How else?

Russell Cicerone, one day removed from being named MAC Player of the year, knuckled a 35-yard free kick through a tailwind just inside the near post in the 97th minute to give UB Men's Soccer a 2-1 sudden death overtime win against Western Michigan in the MAC Semifinal. The goal is his twelfth of the year and sends UB to their first MAC Final since 2007.

Cicerone's goal only came thanks to some magic just ten minutes earlier. Against the wind and an overwhelming shots differential, Daniel Cramarossa gave the Bulls late life, equalizing in the 86th minute off a poor clear from WMU. The strike from the top of the box came in UB's best stretch of offense of the game, working into a strong wind after WMU scored on a set-piece header in the 66th minute. Buffalo appeared to earn a penalty off a Bronco handball at 73 minutes, but play went on for 13 more minutes.

The Broncos had the advantage through much of the match, even playing against the strong wind in the first half, and outshot Buffalo 27-7. Joe Kuta made a career-high eleven saves, six coming in the scoreless first half and many spectacular as Sean Conerty, Brandon Bye, and Carlos Suarez continually broke through for dangerous chances. In addition to all other lopsidedness, WMU earned 12 corners to UB's two.

But the Buffalo defense remained disciplined and slowly found possession, even into the wind. After the late goal, they enjoyed the advantage again in the first overtime, over which time they owned more of the ball.

Cicerone's 12 goals on the season are the most by a Bull since Steve Butcher had 14 in 1999, and Kuta's 11 saves make him just the tenth Bull ever to have that many in a game.

Akron and West Virginia will play in the other semifinal later this evening. UB's last appearance in the MAC Championship was a 1-0 loss to Akron in 2007, when the Zips only scored in the 102nd minute.