The bye week troubles extended into Olympic sports for us, and I haven't gotten to the dedicated previews in time before four hours from now, when I'll need to start work on recaps.
This weekend isn't a terribly busy one for UB and it's almost entirely at home. Both Soccer teams have critical home matches for their MAC fates, and Volleyball has a pair of tough tests. The headliner is Cross Country's trip to pre-Nationals and one of the toughest fields they'll see in a long time.
A brief preview section, since I didn't get dedicated posts this week:
Women's Soccer seems to be moving in the right direction, thanks especially to a pair of position switches. Kassidy Kidd's move to forward has coincided with a goal explosion from the senior, and Carissima Cutrona has more space and time to work with moving back to the win. Both seem comfortable, and more importantly, have good chemistry. Kidd's smart and well-timed runs were a big factor in the offense's apparent clicking in the Northern Illinois win.
On the defensive side, Kristin Markiewicz has moved back to the back four, and Andrea Niper back into the midfield. Long term, having a pair of seniors in the middle of the defense scares me, but I think this move is more critical than Kidd-Cutrona, because it gives Niper a longer range. Even at the back of the midfield, she takes a lot of freedom moving up and can physically control the midfield and win 50-50 balls.
Neither of Toledo or CMU scare me much, and given Buffalo's early MAC stumbles against Ohio and Bowling Green, we're really looking for a pair of wins this weekend before a three-game road trip to close the season.
Men's Soccer showed up well against Akron, but for a team looking to enter the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2011, tonight's match against West Virginia is critical. Last year Akron and WVU ended UB's chances with a pair of shutouts while in 2015 UB will have three games remaining, but play two of their final three on the road. With four slots in the tournament available to the conference's six teams, a good threshold to aim for is two wins and a tie, minimum (Last year UB was 1-2-2).
West Virginia is I guess the one team in the conference that hasn't markedly improved over last season, but they are riding a two-game shutout streak. We are unfortunately at the point where results matter, as good as the strong showing against Akron felt. Buffalo cannot go into their final three games, with two on the road, needing three results to have any hope of a berth in the postseason.
Volleyball missed a chance for a win last Friday against Kent State, and subsequently got rolled by Ohio. This weekend they take on the two leaders in the West Division in Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. We now know that Amber Hatchett is gone for the season with a torn ACL, though we weren't really expecting her back anyway. If she gets a medical clearance and can come back for a fifth year, that might be nice for 2016.
Back to today, pay attention to whether Marissa Prinzbach is back in at setter or is once again replaced by Madison Clark.
There's not much of a storyline for Cross Country, but pre-Nationals are a big deal and we'll look for strong performances from both teams and hope they move up from 9th (Men) and 14th (Women) in the regional rankings. Swimming and Diving hosts Cornell. Once again, not much of a storyline, but it will be good to see everyone put down more times.
Women's Soccer vs Toledo, 5:00 PM
Volleyball vs Western Michigan, 7:00 PM
Men's Soccer vs West Virginia, 7:30 PM
Cross Country at Pre-Nationals (Louisville, KY), All Day
Cross Country at Canisius Alumni Classic, All Day
Swimming and Diving vs Cornell, 1:00 PM
Volleyball vs Northern Illinois, 7:00 PM
Women's Soccer vs Central Michigan, 12:00 PM