UB men’s soccer rolls to 7-0-0 behind another clean sheet
The Cicerone show goes on as Buffalo rolls to another easy win
With local bragging right and an undefeated record on the line, UB men’s soccer delivered yet again Thursday night at Niagara University.
Buffalo (7-0-0) defeated Niagara (1-4-1) 3-0 for their first road win at Niagara Stadium since 1998. Senior forward Russell Cicerone had two goals and one assist in the game. Defensively, Buffalo kept a clean sheet for the sixth time this season. They still have only allowed one goal so far this year. The win gives Buffalo its best record to open a season since 2005, when they started 8-0-0.
Buffalo defended the “Big 4 Shield” with the win and now only need to defeat St. Bonaventure next Wednesday to finish the season with the Shield for the second straight year.
The “Big 4” consists of UB, Canisius, Niagara and St. Bonaventure. Buffalo ended last year with the Big 4 Shield and can lose it at any point in the season to any of those teams.
“We have got to be the flagship institution in this area and the one way we can control that is by beating all the local teams and holding that shield,” said soccer head coach Stu Riddle. “We will be doing everything we can to make sure that our name is engraved on that come Thursday morning next week.”
With his 19th career assist on Thursday, Cicerone tied UB’s all-time career assist record. With his two goals, he now has 10 on the year, which is the most in the country.
“Every time he gets the ball you think he’s going to score,” Riddle said. “My assistant coach actually came up to me before and said ‘Russell has that little look in his eye during the warm up, it’s going to be a big night for him.’ He wasn’t wrong. He was just incredible.”
Defensively, Buffalo continued an outstanding season. The Bulls outshot Niagara 16-6 in the game. Junior goalkeeper Joseph Kuta now leads the nation with six shutouts.
“There are two juniors and two seniors in the starting group in the back four,” Riddle said. “Joseph, the goalkeeper, is a junior as well... Between the five of them they probably played close to 75 games together.”
This Tuesday, Buffalo was held out of the NSCAA Coaches Top 25 poll despite being one of only three teams in the country to be 6-0-0 at the time of the poll.
“It’s the belief of the people on these ranking committees that think that we haven’t played as strong as the other teams,” Riddle said. “It’s nice to get that sort of recognition, but of course the most important ranking is the final one.”
Buffalo will play its next game at South Florida on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Brian Lara is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org