A year ago, sitting on a three-week winless streak and without Russell Cicerone or Marcus Hanson, Men's Soccer needed a late goal from Hunter Walsh to manage a road tie with Stony Brook.
The even match in 2015 is something to work with in getting a feel for this odd Friday morning kickoff, scheduled to accommodate UB Football's season opener in the evening. Stony Brook is a generally younger team than Buffalo (though who isn't?) but like Canisius on Sunday boasts a sizable group of juniors.
It would be easy in visualizing a preview to follow a similar line of thought as we did before UB faced off with the Golden Griffins: the Bulls got a result last year and improved over the second half of the season.
But Sunday on Main Street was a slog, and Stony Brook had a better transition from 2015 to 2016 than Canisius did. The SeaWolves return eight starters, including their leading scorer in 2015 and the reigning America East Freshman of the Year, though they were only voted fifth in that conference by the America East coaches. Albany, who UB played to a 2-2 draw in an August exhibition, was picked to top the conference.
Goalie Tom McMahon may be a name to watch in this one, as in two games he's only been forced to make six saves, of course along with letting three in against Hofstra in Stony Brook's season opener. The Seawolves do an excellent job of limiting shots, but will almost certainly surrender more to Buffalo than they did to Seton Hall. If McMahon is shaky, it could be a long day.
The Bottom Line
This game is going to fly under the radar given its time and the draw of Football later tonight, but it could be a big momentum changer for the Bulls, who are coming off a gritty performance against Canisius that was well below their best play. On a micro level, I'd like to see Steven Stryker build on his early-game chemistry with Russell Cicerone that we saw against Canisius, while on a larger level, I'm looking for improved play, at least enough to dictate the pace more often than not, over Sunday's performance.