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Texas-Rio Grande Valley vs Buffalo Bulls Soccer: Cicerone scores early in 1-1 draw

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UB Athletics

All things considered - a fourth game in eight days, a 2,000-plus mile trip for the team's first road game, and 92-degree heat at kickoff - Men's Soccer's 1-1 tie against Texas-Rio Grande Valley today is a good result, extending the team's unbeaten streak to four in advance of a Sunday match against Houston Baptist.

The draw feels unsatisfying, though, given how it played out. Buffalo easily controlled possession and the run of play early, scoring just four minutes in after Marcus Hanson drew a penalty and Russell Cicerone converted for his third of the season and 19th of his career, good for ninth all-time at UB.

UB continued to own the advantage for the first 25 minutes or so, before several UTRGV subs helped the Vaqueros play at a faster pace and the hosts were consistently able to find room up the right side.

Cicerone was a constant threat throughout, often forced to work against two or more defenders, and putting all but one of his free kicks on target (the lone miss screamed a few feet over the bar). But as UTRGV gained momentum in the first half, they forced Cameron Hogg to make two difficult saves, and then came out of the break with all the momentum.

Over the course of the second half, UB's best defense was an offside trap that negated a number of Vaquero chances, but UTRGV's speed and Buffalo's fatigue contributed to a much sloppier stretch played much more in UB's end than any stretch in the first half.

The hosts tied the game in the 61st minute, and though Buffalo was able to respond a bit, with a handful of good chances over the final 30 minutes, UTRGV controlled much of the second half as Stu Riddle subbed out several of his forward options for deeper-lying players and UB lost their spacing, precision, and urgency to the ball.

Each team had a number of high-quality chances over the two overtime periods, but generally due to their opponent's fatigue and sloppiness rather than any exemplary play. In the end, a 1-1 finish to a chippy game - Braden Culver earned his third yellow card of the season in the first half, and the ref seemed to give up trying to whistle the physical play over the last half hour or so - feels appropriate based on what each team brought tonight, but both groups might walk away feeling they could have won the game.

At the end of the day, Buffalo is still undefeated, and has a win against Canisius out of this week, so it's hard to be too disappointed. Though the win streak is over, 3-0-1 remains Buffalo's best start since 2008 (4-0-0), and Sunday's match against Houston Baptist is another winnable match before the Bulls head to New England next weekend.