As good as Russell Cicerone is and as good as Joe Kuta has been in the second half of the season, a MAC Championship this afternoon from Men's Soccer over #3 Akron would have been one of the great upsets in school history across all sports. Matching their last appearance in 2007, UB fell to the Zips 1-0 on a 45th-minute goal from Victor Souto.
Buffalo had a few chances in the second half, most notably a free kick in the final minute from just outside the box and a foul on Steven Stryker at 66' that the Buffalo bench should have earned Shane Wiedt a red card. Their disagreement resulted in a red for assistant coach Cody Camp.
As in the regular season matchup, UB played responsibly on defense first, but did manage 11 shots and six on target while earning six corners in the second half alone. Considering that the Bulls were without Second Team All-MAC centreback Nick Forrester due to yellow card accumulation and Fox Slotemaker picked up a yellow in the fifth minute, to hold the Zips to a single goal is a strong, strong defensive showing.
The biggest praise for that narrow margin, however, should go to Joseph Kuta, who finished his season in style with not only 11 saves against Western Michigan but 10 further against Akron this afternoon, including two point-blank second half stops on Richie Laryea and Adam Najem, the two leading candidates spurned by Cicerone's Player of the Year award. He was named to the All-Tournament Team for his efforts, along with Daniel Cramarossa and Russell Cicerone from UB.
Braden Culver, Cramarossa, Steven Stryker, and Dylan Cope also picked up yellows for the Bulls, but of course there's no further penalty now.
Buffalo finishes their season 8-7-4 and frankly a year ahead of schedule from where I hoped they would be preseason. Marcus Hanson, Cope, and Nicolay Netskar will graduate, but Scott Doney and Steven Stryker will return at forward, and the midfield is still reasonably deep with Cicerone, Culver, Braden Scales, and Ryan Pereira returning for 2016.