UB Rolls Over Local Rival Niagara
Which team is a stronger unit was evident early in the first half of the University at Buffalo women's soccer game against neighboring rival Niagara University as Buffalo thoroughly dominated play and scored a 4-1 win Friday night at RAC Field.
"We had a little bit of a slow start, which was expected. However, once we slowed down the team played together and we became more solid," said head coach Jean-A Tassy.
Buffalo knew they would need a boost from their offense. Starting goalkeeper Emily Cox was unable to play because of a torn muscle in her shoulder which she sustained earlier in the week.
Early in the first half Buffalo exerted a lot of pressure in the Niagara zone and created several good scoring opportunities. Devon Russell took a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that hit the crossbar, and was then rebounded in front of the goal by fellow sophomore Nicole Olszewski. Olszewski shot but was stoned on a great sliding save by Niagara keeper Alayna Loiselle.
Despite Buffalo's domination in field position and ball control, Niagara capitalized first on one of their few opportunities. Rosie Luzak, deep in the Buffalo zone, kicked the ball over the outstretched hands of freshman goalie Jessica Dunn and into the net for a 1-0 lead with 14:18 left in the first half.
UB's aggressive offense finally broke through with 7:58 remaining in the half when Olszewski took a pass and beat the Niagara keeper to even the score at 1-1 heading into halftime.
"After our first goal we huddled together and knew we had to put the game away. Our goal for the second half was to come out strong and put the game away," said junior Captain Megan Hosey.
The Bulls accomplished just that, as they opened the second half with restored confidence and continued to load pressure on the Niagara defense. Olszewski nearly scored again when she hit the left goalpost with a hard shot from several yards out.
Buffalo then got their inevitable second goal at the 62:15 mark of the game when their lone senior, Paula Sinclair, booted the ball into the open net. Less than ten minutes later, Buffalo converted again on a nifty move by Russell and beat the Niagara keeper to establish a 3-1 lead.
With the game well in hand, Buffalo added a little more salt to Niagara's wounds with a goal scored by sophomore Emily Russell late in the second half. Fellow sophomore Erin McGarry assisted on the game's final score.
"This is a hard game to play in, with the emotional aspects of playing our neighboring rivals," added UB Assistant Coach Tom Garigen. "Everybody got some good playing time and the overall level of play remained steady throughout."
The statistics told the story. The Bulls out-shot Niagara 19 to 9, making it a busy night for Loiselle. Dunn only had to make five saves, while the Niagara keeper made eight.
"Since we lost so many seniors, it forces everyone else to step up like Robin (Aparo) did today on defense. Without defense there is no offense. Overall, today's performance by the team is a sign of good things still to come," added Russell.
Coming off the solid season opening performance Friday night, the Bulls looked to shift into high gear against Big East opponent, and national soccer power, Syracuse University Monday afternoon at RAC Field.
The Orangewomen, however, showed why they have one of the most respected programs in the country, dominating from the opening kickoff until the last whistle, and posting a 4-0 victory in the process.
Just 1:16 into the opening half, forward Nina Scalzo made the score 1-0 for the 'Cuse with a tip-in off a corner kick. Then only 2:57 later Scalzo added a soft goal off a throw in that further sank the hearts of the Bulls, who were down 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the contest.
"We came out flat which may have been due to nervousness or either a lack of confidence. [Syracuse] is a very good well-organized team where player for player has a lot of talent," said Assistant Coach Tom Garigen.
Buffalo failed to generate any solid scoring opportunities in the first half, and the majority of the action took place in their own defensive zone.
Syracuse tacked on one more goal before the half, when Natalie Galas took a pass from Megan Huez and poked it in the net at 34:41. The dejected Bulls went into halftime trailing 3-0.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, the second half proved to play out much like the first, only with less balls finding the net. Syracuse once again dominated field position and had several more scoring opportunities than the Bulls.
"We didn't make adjustments when we needed them, our supportive communication as a team is still lacking, but will improve with time," said Head Coach Jean-A Tassy.
Syracuse managed to capitalize once more when Candy Reich took a pass from Scalzo and beat UB goalie Emily Cox at 73:04 for the fourth and final tally of the afternoon. Cox made her first start of the season after missing Friday night's game with a torn shoulder muscle.
The statistics reflected Syracuse's domination. The Orangewomen out-shot UB 18-6. Cox posted only two saves, while Syracuse keeper Shannon Myers had five.
"We came out flat, however this game has provided experience and preparation to play against good teams, as well for conference play," added defensive anchor Robin Aparo.
Syracuse Assistant Coach Tracy Britton was a four-year player under Coach Tassy at UB, and commented on the rise of Buffalo's women's soccer program.
"It is real good to be back [at UB]. When I came in with Coach Tassy it was his first class in, and the program gradually grew and gained some respect in the area and as a result attracted some good local talent."
"This was a great lesson for the girls, it was opportunity for a reality check, and may hopefully turn out to be a blessing in disguise," added Tassy.
The Bulls are on the road next week, where they have two non-conference games against Fairfield University and Boston University. They return home the following week to open their conference schedule against Akron on Friday, Sept. 14.