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Weekend Preview: Buffalo Men's Soccer hits the road to face UT-RGV, Houston Baptist

A pair of road matches in Texas present a new challenge for the undefeated Bulls.

UB Athletics

Men's Soccer is flying high, off to their first 3-0-0 start since 2008 after a thrilling 4-2 win over Canisius Tuesday, and now heads on their first road trip of the season. Russell Cicerone has caught national attention earlier in the season than last year, but it's Marshall transfer Scott Doney who leads the team in scoring. Neither of UB's weekend opponents look particularly good, but until 10 days ago, I wasn't expecting the improved Bulls to be this improved, either.

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (1-0-0, 0-0-0 WAC)

Friday, 4 September; 8:00 PM (Eastern)
Edinburg, Texas

All-time series: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
2015 Common Opponents: Houston Baptist
Streams: UTRGV runs a YouTube stream! This is wonderful news.
Live Stats: My least favorite live stats platform, but also available.

Vaqueros Player to Watch: Junior F Carlos Acevedo

UTRGV has one of the most piecemeal rosters I've ever seen, and with only one game under their belts, I've no clue what to make of it. But we'll go with Acevedo here, who last year with UT-Brownsville scored 15 goals. More below.

It's important to note that the entire UT-RGV school is brand new, having held their first classes ever this past Monday after the state combined the former UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American universities. The Vaqueros Men's Soccer team is an amalgamation of former Brownsville (NAIA) players, players with JUCO experience, a handful of transfers from Division I schools who didn't get much playing time at their first stop, and a bunch of freshmen from Finland.

Between Brownsville, Tyler Junior College, and Richland College, UTRGV boasts several players who at past stops appeared in NAIA and NJCAA National Championship games, but you wonder how well top NAIA and JUCO talent can step up to Division I. (I cannot answer this question.)

Furthermore, UTRGV has only played one meaningful game this season, against NAIA Huston Tillotson, beating the Rams 3-0 while not really dominating possession.

Houston Baptist (1-1-0, 0-0 WAC)

Saturday, 5 September; 5:30 PM (Eastern)
Edinburg, Texas

All-time series: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
2015 Common Opponents: UTRGV
Streams: Looks like UTRGV only does video for their games.
Live Stats: Live stats, though, should still be available, at the same link as above.

Huskies Player to Watch: Senior F George Kelley and Senior M Thilo Borgmann

The Huskies lost their three leading scorers from 2014, but early on have seen Kelley match his junior year total in just the first two games, though both his goals came against D-II Lubbock Christian, while Houston Baptist was shut out against Bradley. Borgmann, the captain, was not a prolific goal scorer last year, but is the Huskies' leading shot-taker so far and has also taken all but one of his team's corner kicks so far.

Houston Baptist has a marginally longer tradition as a D-I program than UT-RGV, but has only been at this level since 2007 after spending 17 years in the NAIA. Men's Soccer is the only Huskies program to compete in the WAC, as the rest of the school's teams are in the Southland Conference.

In 2014, HBU went just 3-11-2 even with five seniors on the squad. As I mentioned above, they lost their three top scorers to graduation on top of that, but do feature eight seniors and a pair of juniors in 2015.

The Bulls are coming off a strong second half and statement win against Canisius, and it's easy for me to get ahead of myself heading into this weekend, but UB will be at a disadvantage relative to what we've seen simply because UT-RGV and HBU are Buffalo's first road games of the season. Both games are winnable, and if UB is the experienced team coming into its own and learning how to win tough games, they both should be.