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Fall Sports Player Preview: sophomore defender Fox Slotemaker

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UB Athletics

As easy as it is to constantly highlight the young, experienced corps of talent in the UB Men's Soccer team, it really is worth repeating. Buffalo returns nearly everyone in 2015, and with goalie one of the few spots that are seeing a transition, the defense in front of Cameron Hogg or Joseph Kuta will be critical.

On a team that made noticeable strides in a matter of months in 2014, the defense was the most-improved unit, and leading the group then and now is sophomore Fox Slotemaker. It's hard to believe Slotemaker, who's spending the summer in town with FC Buffalo, still has three years of eligibility left, but I wasn't kidding when I said UB's young group was worth the attention.

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To date, Fox has been the most fruitful of Stu Riddle's Kiwi recruits, seeing action in all but one game as a freshman and starting all but two. Anchoring the middle of the defense, Slotemaker doesn't get many opportunities to fill up the stat sheet, but has scored thrice in ten appearances with FC Buffalo this summer, good for second on the team. Fox's most recent tally opened the scoring in a 4-2 rivalry match with Erie.

When Fox and any center back is playing his best, there aren't many spectacular highlights, just a number of plays that look routine thanks to superior positioning. In that light, Slotemaker's contributions as an underclassman should impress you more. He's the first previewed of UB's defense because, simply, he is the bedrock of the unit. In 2014, as he and his teammates built up experience, UB went from surrendering more than 15 shots/game in the first four contests to just over 12 in the final four matches.

This season, the defense as a whole may improve for reasons entirely exterior to Fox, though you can expect a step forward there, as well. With another forward stepping into the thick of the attack and another year's experience from the rest of the forwards and midfielders should narrow the gap between midfield and defense that was at times strangely large and all too easy for prevents to exploit in 2014.

Expect Fox Slotemaker to be in the middle of it.

Go Bulls