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Bulls miss opportunity to win Buffalo Shield

Buffalo loses to local rivals Niagara and Canisius

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A nonconference win was not the only thing on the line Friday night when the men’s soccer team took on Niagara. The two squads were also competing for the inaugural Buffalo Shield, a local competition between the Big Four rivals, Niagara, Canisius, St. Bonaventure, and Buffalo.

With a win, Buffalo would have been the first team to claim shield and had the right to defend it against the other Big Four rivals.

But the Bulls could not come away with a victory.

Niagara (3-3) bested the Bulls (1-5), 2-1 on Friday. Buffalo traveled downtown to Demske Sports Complex Sunday to face Canisius (3-2), but lost 1-0.

Despite the loss, head coach Stu Riddle was impressed with his team’s performance Sunday after falling down a goal.

“They were fantastic,” Riddle said. “It was the best game they’ve played all season. Outside from a 10-minute span in the first half, they were completely dominant for 80 minutes.”

Sunday’s game began with shots from both squads within the first two minutes. Canisius’ six-foot-five senior striker Asani Samuels headed a perfect cross that hit the top of the crossbar, giving an early scare to Buffalo senior goaltender Waleed Cassis.

Cassis showed brilliance during the game, making several impressive diving stops and aggressively clearing balls out of the 18-yard box. He ended the night with four saves.

Play became choppy after the first 15 minutes with several penalties and set balls. Sophomore midfielders Russell Cicerone and Braden Culver both drew yellow cards in the game. Cicerone received two for aggressive play, while Culver received one for an aggressive tackle.

The Griffins bombarded Buffalo’s goal with players and shots in the 37th minute. Cassis was able to handle the pressure by making a remarkable diving save off a powerful Canisius shot but eventually, Samuels broke through, scoring in the onslaught to give Canisius a 1-0 lead. That was all the scoring the Griffins needed for the night.

There were several scoring opportunities for Buffalo in the game’s final 15 minutes. Riddle altered the Bulls’ formation to put an extra man up field and apply more pressure.

Sophomore midfielder Nicolai Berry sent a 30-yard cross to sophomore midfielder Sean Young who dove for the header, but the shot was deflected by the Griffins’ goalie.

Riddle was also impressed with the team’s mentality in the second half.

“They weren’t down on themselves because they were a goal down,” Riddle said. “The determination and character we showed was terrific. On a different day we could have had three or four goals in.”

On Friday, Niagara’s Andrew Ferguson scored in the 16th minute.

Ferguson was the catalyst for the Purple Eagles’ offense, as he sent a corner kick that found the head of sophomore defender Coletun Long and gave Niagara a 2-0 first-half lead.

The Bulls contained Niagara the remainder of the game, as those were the only goals allowed by freshman goalkeeper Cameron Hogg. Hogg ended his second collegiate appearance with three saves.

Cicerone tried to bring Bulls back in the second half with a penalty-kick goal – his team-leading third of the season.

That was the only goal the Bulls produced, as they fell 2-1 against Niagara. The Purple Eagles were awarded the Buffalo Shield.

Buffalo plays Friday as it host Detroit (2-2-1) at UB Stadium. The game is set for 7 p.m.

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