For the most part, this Fall preview series will be covering one player a day. Sometimes, though, there's no point in separating a few players when they have similar stories and outlooks for 2015.
Waleed Cassis has graduated and moved on to the Ottawa Fury of the NASL. A year ago, Cassis' successor seemed clear, as Cameron Hogg was on the roster, thanks to Stu Riddle's Kiwi roots, and the freshman even split time with Cassis through the preseason and early matches.
The season continued, though, with Hogg seeing action only against Division-III Houghton College in Buffalo's last nine games. Before the spring semester, Riddle added another keeper to the mix with Hogg and Ryan O'Mara when he announced the addition of former Robert Morris starter Joseph Kuta.
Now, a little over a month out from the preseason opener, there's a competition for that starting spot.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Clean sheets and wins this weekend for <a href="https://twitter.com/BullsMensSoccer">@BullsMensSoccer</a> goalkeepers <a href="https://twitter.com/camhogg8454">@camhogg8454</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/jkuta1">@jkuta1</a> for their summer sides <a href="https://twitter.com/FCBuffalo">@FCBuffalo</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/SigmaFC">@SigmaFC</a></p>— UB Men's Soccer Team (@BullsMensSoccer) <a href="https://twitter.com/BullsMensSoccer/status/617768175980158976">July 5, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Neither Hogg nor Kuta has much recent action in NCAA competition: Hogg's final stats from last year come in at nine goals allowed over just four games, while Kuta did not play last year after his one season at RMU. That one season, however, might be the strongest bullet point on either gent's resume: Starting 17 matches, all but one of RMU's full season slate, Kuta maintained a GAA of just 1.32, a number lower than every UB team since 2008.
I can't speak to the quality of the 2013 Robert Morris defense - at least in raw numbers, it allowed about the same number of shots per game as Buffalo's - but the team did have three All-NEC midfielders and the NEC Player of the Year at forward.
Both goalies have experience in their respective national programs. Hogg has recently been a part of the New Zealand U20 program, while Kuta also has experience in the Canadian National Program, seeing international in U18 tournaments in 2011.
Last season, Buffalo's defense gelled and found rapid improvement over the course of the year. It's still a young team with few seniors, but it's time for the experience of the last two seasons to pay off. Having little experience in goal isn't ideal, but each of UB's primary options - I shouldn't forget O'Mara entirely - offer plenty of potential, and even a slight improvement there will help the team up and down the pitch.