The men's soccer team had a lot on the line when the team played its final regular season game over the weekend. The team came up short and it will cost them in the postseason.
The fans that braved the cold witnessed the Bulls (7-9-1, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) take a crushing 2-1 loss at the hands of the Western Michigan Broncos (9-7-2, 4-2-0 MAC) on Friday night.
Buffalo could have wrapped up the second seed in the MAC Tournament with a win, and Bulls head coach John Astudillo knew how much the team needed it..
"It was a critical loss that needed to be a critical win," Astudillo said. "This was not an easy one."
The Bulls battled for the seniors in their last home regular season match in UB Stadium. After 90 minutes of play, the Bulls could not outmatch the Broncos. The Broncos set the tone of the match by scoring two quick goals on senior goalie Nick Fetterman in the first 18 minutes of play. Western Michigan's Oliver Mayer scored the first goal off a shot taken right in front of the net.
"We set out not to give up set plays, but we did," Astudillo said. "We set out to play hard in the beginning, but we didn't do a very good job of that either."
In the final 45 minutes, the Bulls battled hard to catch up with their opponent. The Bulls outshot the Broncos 12-5 in the second half.
Senior midfielder Rich Wilson earned his first goal of the season with 21 minutes left in the match. Senior defenseman Casey Derkacz sent a long free kick to Wilson, who headed the ball in and scored the first and only goal of the match for the Bulls.
The Bulls created several chances in front of the net in an attempt to tie the match up, but they could not put the ball into the goal. A shot by senior forward Mike Unwin gave the Bulls hope, but the ball hit the right post.
Unwin led the Bulls with six shots on goal on Friday night. Overall, the Bulls outshot the Broncos 18-13.
Fetterman made five saves in his last home game, and WMU's Sean Lewis stopped seven shots for the Broncos.
"As far as confidence, I'm not quite sure where we are," Astudillo said. "This was a pretty gutted loss and we can't have anyone else to blame but ourselves."
With the loss, the Bulls dropped out of their tie for second place in the MAC.
Bowling Green's match against Florida Atlantic decided the Bulls' seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament. The Falcons came out victorious and knocked the Bulls down to the fourth seed.
This means that Buffalo will have to get past the regular season champion and No.1 nationally ranked Akron Zips in the first round. Although the Bulls did not know where they would be seeded on Friday night, they knew that they had to be prepared for anything.
"We'll prepare for Akron," Astudillo said. "They are our challenge and we have to be ready for them. At some point we would have had to face them anyhow."
The last time the two teams met, the Zips shut out Buffalo 4-0. The match will be difficult for the Bulls, but if they can come out on top, the tournament's biggest challenge will be behind them.
The match will kick off the MAC Tournament on Friday at 5 p.m. at Akron's Lee R. Jackson Field.