In one of the best seasons in UB Men’s Soccer history, the Bulls had to go through Akron once again to try and win their first-ever Mid-American Conference Championship. The Bulls gave it their all in a memorable performance, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.
The first half was what you’d expect from a matchup with the Zips. Akron dominated possession, forcing the Bulls to play more defense than they probably would’ve liked. Akron’s control over the ball was more than usual though, as Buffalo simply could not get any shots off during the half.
Buffalo’s defense did great work in this time. The Bulls managed to keep Akron scoreless for most of the half by swarming whoever had the ball in the box. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Akron’s advantage was just enough for Nick Hinds to deliver a goal from the center of the box past Joseph Kuta. Going into the half, the Bulls were outshot 13-0, with only a couple of real chances of shooting the ball.
UB came into the second half knowing that they needed to start generating some offense. Leaving only four in the backfield, the Bulls started to be more aggressive and it showed when possession was just about equal between the two teams. Making the picture look bleak for the Bulls, Buffalo let in a second goal in the 52nd minute.
All Akron had to do was wrap the game up from there, but ten minutes later the Bulls got a break. Russell Cicerone got a one-on-one chance with Akron’s goalie and took full advantage from the right side. Buffalo now had a chance to equalize and stretch the game into overtime with the 2-1 deficit.
With the game back into the picture, the Bulls wore their heart for the game on their sleeves. After receiving a hard hit defending a potential goal, Joseph Kuta was on the ropes. After a decision to sub in Cameron Hogg to let Kuta get patched up, the unordinary happened. Bleeding from the hit, Kuta came back onto the field and played hard—finishing the day with 7 saves.
Buffalo threw everything they could at Akron in the final minutes. The Bulls had several chances to tie the game up but in the end it wasn’t enough. For the second straight year, the Bulls will fall in the MAC Championship.
Unless if Buffalo can get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, their season is over. They’re currently 54th in RPI and will need some help from the selection committee for that to be possible. Overall on the season they’re 12-3-3.
Nonetheless, this is a successful season for the Bulls. Buffalo gave it their all right to the end and went toe-to-toe for the conference championship against a team that was a nationally ranked power months ago. Although many graduate this team, there’s a bright future for Buffalo Men’s Soccer.