Bulls face tough weekend competition
Last weekend, the men's soccer team faced opponents with two things in common: strength and a desire to win.
The Bulls (4-5-1, 1-0 Mid-American Conference) had a chance to move their record to above .500 record this weekend, but were unable to do so. On Friday, they traveled to Niagara (2-6-1) and lost in a close contest, 3-2. On Sunday, Buffalo hosted Duquesne (5-3-2) and played to a 1-1 tie.
Against Niagara, junior forward Mike Unwin got the Bulls attack off and running with a goal in the 19th minute. Unwin snuck the ball past the goalkeeper's right side to give Buffalo the lead.
The Purple Eagles struck back only two minutes later as Niagara midfielder Michael Malone netted an indirect kick to tie the game. Both teams struggled mounting any offense after that until senior forward Juha Kaartoluoma gave the Bulls a lead in the final minutes of the half with his second goal of the season.
However, Niagara forward Carl Haworth spoiled the game for the Bulls in the second half. The senior found some holes in Buffalo's defense and netted two unanswered goals, resulting in Niagara's second win of the season.
"[We learned] that we needed to play 90 minutes," said head coach John Astudillo. "I thought we were getting shots and getting inside but we lost possession somehow in the second half."
The weekend would not get any easier for the Bulls when they traveled back to UB Stadium to host Duquesne.
Under rainy conditions, Buffalo fought hard in a back-and-forth match against the Dukes.
The game proved to be very physical for both teams, as Buffalo totaled a season-high 16 fouls while Duquesne notched 15.
The tough play resulted in very little offense for both teams in the first half.
"I thought [Duquesne] got the jump on us a little bit," Astudillo said. "But I thought we came right back and… started passing a little bit better."
The Dukes put the first point on the board in the opening minutes of the second half. Duquesne forward Simon Gomez found the bottom-right corner of the net after a clean assist from junior forward Tyler Tompkins.
Even though the Dukes struck first, the Bulls had more chances to score, outshooting their opponents 21-16.
The Bulls only capitalized on one of those shots. After missing a shot on goal earlier in the half, junior forward Nate Woods scored on a header in the 69th minute.
A frenzy ensued as both teams failed to finish on a number of scoring chances. The Bulls didn't take advantage on their six corner kick opportunities in the game.
The final minutes didn't go without some excitement. In a crucial moment near the end of regulation, junior goalkeeper Nick Fetterman mishandled the ball while he was attempting to clear it. Unwin charged the net to block a pointblank shot by the Dukes.
That would be the last threat in regulation, as the game went into overtime, where the teams fought to a stalemate.
Astudillo felt the game was competitive throughout, mentioning how neither team would go down easily.
"It was a very hard fought match on both sides," Astudillo said. "I thought both teams were just going at it very hard and that we played well on both sides of the ball."
Buffalo returns to action next Saturday at Bowling Green (2-4-2, 0-2-0 MAC). The match begins at 1 p.m.
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