The UB men's soccer team fell to divisional rival Akron Friday night in front of 125 rain-soaked spectators at RAC field. The 1-0 loss, their first since Sept. 1, breaks the Bulls' four-game winning streak and puts their overall record at 3-2-1 (0-1 in the MAC).
"I'm disappointed. We played well, but those aren't the results we want. The object is to win," said Head Coach John Astudillo in a post-game interview.
The only score of the contest came at the 24:56 mark, on a quick strike by Akron Zips sophomore forward Tim Cooper, aided by a pass from junior midfielder Torbjorn Birkland.
The Bulls had several excellent scoring opportunities, but were unable to convert, as Akron goaltender Kyle Milligan dived to deflect several shots clear of the goal. Milligan totaled four saves, two of which came in the final minutes of the game.
Bulls goaltender Brian Wozniak pulled in one save and let one goal through, which is all, as it turned out, was all Akron would need.
Akron also had the shooting advantage, with 10 shots on goal to the Bulls' eight, five of which came in the second half.
"Individually we had a lot of opportunities to score, but Akron countered effectively - and very dangerously," said Astudillo.
Buffalo upped the pressure late in the game as they tried to tie the score up. With less than two minutes left, sophomore Mike Geller had two chances at the net. The first Milligan knocked wide; the second he deflected back to his own defenseman.
"We played well as a whole," said senior midfielder Mike Peplinski. "I think we just need to find someone to put it in the net."
Astudillo added, "I think we have a little inexperience up in front. We can move the ball through two thirds of the field, but we have some break-downs and problems in the offense."
Akron had control through the first half. The Bulls played a physical game, but the Zips were quicker and repeatedly outran the Bulls.
"When you have a conference game, the energy level goes up," commented Astudillo. "We wanted those two points just as much as they did."
Before the loss, the Bulls were in second place in the Mid-American Conference behind Marshall University.
They will play their next three games, all against MAC opponents, at home. The Bulls will host Niagara University tomorrow at 7 p.m., Bowling Green State University Sunday, Sept. 30, and round out their home stand against first place Marshall University Oct. 7.
"Niagara just beat Binghamton. They're going to come in expecting a fight. These divisional games are always a battle," said Astudillo.
"Even though we lost this one, we played a solid game, we need to build on this performance - and the goals will start coming," said Peplinski.