After a mediocre weekend in the Texas heat that saw the Bulls struggle to score, Men's Soccer returns to tolerable weather while staying on the road this weekend for a pair of matches against UMass-Lowell and Bryant.
Nine goals in the first three games led to just one - one a penalty shot, at that - in Buffalo's most recent weekend, but the Bulls had their chances. Hopefully UB can find the spark again on the road.
UMass-Lowell (2-2, 0-0 America East)
Friday, 11 September; 7:00 PM
All-time series: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
2015 Common Opponents: Canisius, Bryant, Stony Brook
Streams: Video is available through America East. I do not know if it's behind a paywall or not.
Live Stats: Available through Lowell
River Hawks Player to Watch: Sophomore G Austin Kroll
Lowell doesn't score much, with only two goals this season, but they've got a pair of 1-0 wins out of those tallies thanks to Kroll's two shutouts. On the flip side, when the goals come, they come in bunches, as he's allowed five goals in his two losses.
I'm a bit confused by the River Hawks, because the Massey Ratings seem to like them despite what looks like a punchless offense and an all-or-nothing defense. UB's nonconference schedule is a step below last year's and Lowell has struggled offensively against everyone. After a grueling weekend in Texas, look for the Bulls to at least get back to playing their game.
Bryant (0-2-1, 0-0 Northeast)
Sunday, 13 September; 1:00 PM
Smithfield, Rhode island
All-time series: Buffalo leads, 1-0-0
Last Meeting: Buffalo, 3-2 (2OT), 5 Sept 2014
2015 Common Opponents: Lafayette (T, 1-1), Canisius, UMass-Lowell
Streams: Available through the Northeast Conference. Unsure if free or pay.
Live Stats: Available through Bryant on the thankfully-decent PrestoSports platform
Bulldogs Player to Watch: Senior F Brett LaRocque
I wanted to find a defensive player to highlight given Bryant's strong showings against #7 Providence and Lafayette, but LaRocque has two of the Bulldog's three goals on the season, and was named All-NEC First Team in 2014. He's their offensive go-to, even though he didn't score against UB last year.
Bryant, like Buffalo, is a team on the rise. Last year they forced the Bulls to come from behind twice, and only missed out on a regulation win, let alone a tie, thanks to a pair of miracle goals. They graduated six seniors from last year's team, but you only need to look at their results so far to see their strength. Ignore 0-2-1. UB might not be better than 0-2-1 against ranked Providence, Lafayette, and Rhode Island.
The Leopards and Buffalo played one of the most entertaining games of the year in 2014, and I'm really looking forward to their match next week, and Bryant played them to a tie. I'd be very pleased if UB could go into Rhode Island and come out with a second straight win over the Bulldogs.