Freshman's late goal nets Bulls' first victor

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The Spectrum

There is no better time for a freshman to score her first career goal than when it matters most.

Buffalo (1-3) rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit to beat St. Bonaventure (1-3) at UB Stadium on Friday night off a goal by freshman midfielder Megan Abman with just over three minutes remaining in the match.

The Bonnies struck first with a goal from senior forward Anna Cunningham on a shot that just snuck past freshman goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon in the second minute of the match.

After fending off a barrage of Bonnie attacks, the Bulls drew a penalty at the top of the 18-yard box. Senior midfielder Lindsey Bailey drilled the right side of the net on the free kick to pull the match even in the 27th minute.

St. Bonaventure regained the lead on a counter attack in the 40th minute after Cunningham blasted a one-timer off a thru-ball into the back of the net from just outside the goal box.

Down 2-1 after the halftime break, the Bulls began the second stanza with a renewed confidence in their ability and a revamped gameplan.

"I think we played with just a little bit more focus. The kids came out and did every little thing a little bit tighter," said Bulls' head coach Michael Thomas. "The passes were a little bit crisper, they were moving a little bit more… just collectively everybody just took a deep breath and did every little thing better, and that made the difference in the game."

The play of Wheldon enabled Buffalo to remain in the game as she recorded six saves in the second half.

Wheldon turned away two key scoring chances by the Bonnies in the 70th minute to keep the Bulls within one. On a free kick, Wheldon knocked away a ball that was headed for the upper corner of the goal. Seconds later, the freshman caught a line drive shot off a rebound.

Buffalo evened the score in the 74th minute after freshman forward Karen McMahon drew a foul at the top of the goal box. Sophomore midfielder Natasha Arana found the back of the net after the free kick deflected of a Bonnie defender.

Buffalo did not settle for a draw and stayed on the attack as the momentum shift gave the Bulls an opportunity for the win.

With less than three minutes remaining, Abman stole the ball from a Bonnie defender in the backfield and confidently dribbled around the goalkeeper for an easy game-winning tap-in.

"In practice we were doing this drill with one-versus-one and earlier in the preseason I wasn't having a lot of success," Abman said. "This time I just relaxed and remembered what the coaches said."

The Bulls look to earn their second win of the early season this Friday at the Niagara University Tournament against Duquesne. Game time is set for 5 p.m.