UB Sports' October in Review
It's been quite a month for UB sports. Buffalo's two soccer teams made the Mid-American Conference tournament to bookend their incredible seasons. However, success wasn't contagious. While those two teams flourished under pressure, other teams collapsed – namely volleyball and football. The teams saw their seasons slowly slip away as the month continued.
October wasn't perfect, but it was eventful. Here's what stood out this month:
Best Team – Women's Soccer
There was nowhere to go but up for Buffalo, and the team did just that.
The Bulls finished their regular season in October with an 11-4-4 (4-3-4 Mid-American Conference) record after winning just one game last season. Buffalo wasn't satisfied with its first playoff berth in eight years. Its win against Kent State (12-8, 6-6 MAC) last Sunday marks the first time the Bulls have made it to the semifinals in more than a decade.
After winning just one game in October, the Bulls rallied to sweep their final two games to punch their ticket to the playoffs. The team's final regular season win against Kent State avenged its 7-1 loss to the Golden Flashes in last season's finale.
Most Exciting Game – Football vs. Ohio
A lot of people didn't expect the Bulls (2-7, 1-4 MAC) to win this game. Ohio (5-3, 2-2 MAC) had an imposing aerial attack and an impressive turnover ratio, and looked like one of the best teams in the conference. Buffalo was just coming off of a 41-10 throttling at the hands of Tennessee (3-5, 0-5 Southeastern Conference), which is also known for its high-powered passing offense.
The Bulls shocked the doubters that Saturday afternoon with one of their best games in recent memory. Buffalo beat Ohio, 38-37.
Senior quarterback Chazz Anderson looked far more competent against the Bobcats than he did against the Volunteers. Anderson threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Ed Young finished the game with a career-high 135 yards on five receptions. Anderson connected with Young with a short pass that became a 90-yard touchdown, the second-longest pass in UB history.
Perhaps the true star of the game was sophomore running back Branden Oliver. He was a nightmare for the Bobcat defense – blowing past defenders and barreling his way towards the end zone with brute force. Oliver finished with a career-high 179 yards and three touchdowns.
Best Player – Ainsley Wheldon
Granted, sophomore goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon does benefit from a strong defense. But when the defense wasn't there, she was ready to make crucial saves.
Wheldon was nothing short of great between the goalposts last month, as she posted four more shutouts to add to her already impressive résumé. She also ends the month ranked fourth in the nation with 137 saves. Wheldon is in the top five in Buffalo history for saves in a game.
Finally, her 1844:45 played minutes this season is the most by any player in school history. The final 90 minutes came during a bruising game against aggressive Kent State in the MAC quarterfinals.
Wheldon's most exciting moment came in Buffalo's 1-0 victory against Akron (7-9-2, 4-6-2 MAC). The sophomore leapt to deflect a potential game-tying goal in the 86th minute. She regrouped to make another save when an Akron player tried to capitalize off of the rebound. Even head coach Michael Thomas was surprised that Wheldon was able to make those saves.
Wheldon earned her ninth shutout of the season against Akron, setting a UB record.
Most Disappointing Team – Volleyball
October was never the volleyball team's (10-16, 3-9 MAC) strongest month. The Bulls have only compiled a 4-15 record in October over the past two years.
This year, the squad continued the trend. After upsetting Bowling Green (18-8, 5-7 MAC), 3-2, at the beginning of the month, the Bulls dropped six straight matches and stumbled to a 2-7 record on the month.
Buffalo had extremely sloppy performances throughout October. The squad has had more errors than its opponent in eight of the nine games. The team also got swept four straight times in the middle of the month.
The Bulls got back in the win column last Thursday against Akron (4-21, 1-11 MAC). However, the Zips are the worst team in the conference and it took Buffalo five sets to take them down.
The Bulls were just shutout at the hands of Ball State (22-3, 11-1 MAC) – not a good precursor for what's in store for November.
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