Four starters from last year's MAC champion Women's Soccer team have moved on after graduation. Included in that group are three All-MAC honorees, the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, and both of UB's central midfielders.
And yet, there's plenty of reason to expect another season of achievements from the squad. The seven other 2014 starters, including Three All-MAC honorees, another member of the MAC All-Freshman team, and the MAC Defensive Player of the Year would be enough for optimism.
It got even better this past spring when Coach Burke reached beyond his own roster or incoming freshmen and secured two transfers with significant pedigrees in forward Carissima Cutrona and midfielder Moira Petrie.
Much like the Hurley/Oats overhaul of recent Men's Basketball rosters, Burke has found two players each with a year already in a college environment to help build his team for the future. Cutrona spent a year at Colgate but did not play due to injury, and has four years of eligibility remaining. Petrie has played one year at Alabama, appearing in 16 of the Crimson Tide's matches, and has three years of eligibility left.
Even the straight-out-of-high-school version of either Cutrona or Petrie, however, would be a shining jewel in a Buffalo recruiting class. Each was highly regarded during their recruitment; Cutrona as a 161-goal scorer and two-time All-American for Williamsville South, and Petrie not only as a standout for well-known Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, but also for FC Delco of the Elite Clubs National League, an organization I'm still trying to wrap my head around.
Petrie was recognized by ESPN Rise in 2010, and was an early commit to Providence before ending up at Alabama, while Burke and Michael Thomas seemed to have been after Cutrona during her initial recruitment. For what it's worth, TopDrawerSoccer had Moira as a three-star recruit and Carissima a four-star out of high school.
I can't find too much video on either, but Cutrona is a high-scoring forward who's already laid claim to Katie Roberts' #8 jersey, while Petrie is an exceedingly creative attacking midfielder who in theory could slot into Megan Giesen's spot, but in practice would be much more attacking minded than the departed senior, who was excellent at winning loose balls, but usually left the creativity to the wings. Perhaps Petrie is best suited for the edge herself and nudges into a rotation with Kassidy Kidd and/or Julia Benati.
Should Burke maintain the same formation as last year, at times we could see a front five of Kidd-Petrie-Benati-Celina Carrero-Cutrona overflowing with offensive creativity. The less other teams can devote multiple defenders to Carrero, the better. It's of course possible, too, that Andrea Niper gets time in the midfield early, and with both Kori Hughes (midfield) and N'Dea Johnson (forward) theoretically returning from injuries, there are a ton of possible permutations.
Whatever comes of the lineup in August, with Petrie and Cutrona alongside the other returning starters from last year's championship run, it's easy to feel confident once again in Buffalo's chances.