Defending the Big Four Shield after owning it for the offseason, UB Men’s Soccer found themselves in a dogfight of a rivalry match today at Canisius’ Demske Sports Complex.
David Enstrom connected with a loose ball in the box off a Rikard Lindqvist corner in the 81st minute to give UB a 1-0 lead entirely against the run of play, a lead that held up despite the Golden Griffins outshooting Buffalo 18-11 on the night. It’s UB’s first win at Canisius since 2010.
Enstrom’s goal broke apart a murky game full of wild boots and repetitive headers. Canisius had the better of the build-up play and the more dangerous chances, but UB always had an answer, even if at some stretches it was an over-reliance on keeper Joe Kuta, who worked much harder for the shutout than the official line of five saves would indicate..
On the whole, the night felt much like a return to 2014, when the last time these teams met at Demske, Canisius was the more physical team and won many more loose balls in the midfield and balls in the air, and UB resorted to long balls, seemingly hoping for a single moment of inspiration to serve as offense and leaving their goalie, now Kuta instead of Waleed Cassis, to make a number of strong saves while looking into the sun to keep the game tied.
The turf seemed to play faster than that at UB Stadium — hopefully that’s the reason UB seemed so heavy on their touches and unable to string passes together — and really all that happened of note offensively until the winning goal was one of Buffalo’s best chances resulting in a yellow card for Russell Cicerone when the talented forward complained to the ref after being tackled in the box twice in roughly 60 seconds:
But Canisius no longer has Asani Samuel, and when UB finally hit a set piece into the crowd instead of over it, Cicerone tried for a bicycle kick before the ball bounced off a Canisius defender, to Enstrom, and into the net. Buffalo’s defense took a step forward in aggression for the final nine minutes and UB leaves Main Street with a win.
In addition to Cicerone’s booking, Daniel Cramarossa, Braden Culver, Fox Slotemaker, and Nick Forrester picked up yellows in the second half despite Canisius being the much more physical team.
UB next hosts Stony Brook Friday at 10:00 AM to accommodate the Football season opener later that day. The Bulls needed a late goal from Hunter Walsh to merit a draw from the Sea Wolves last season, and will look this year to continue their season-opening winning streak.