Cutrona goes down with leg injury in overtime thriller

Soccer loses top scorer after bouncing back from first loss since August

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Senior forward Carissima Cutrona went down with an injury on Sunday in soccer's 2-1 overtime home win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Cutrona hurt her leg in the final minute of the second half, colliding with Eastern senior goalkeeper Kaylin Williams while trying to score off a breakaway. Williams was bleeding after the collision with Cutronas’ leg hitting her in the face.

Both players would not return to the game with Cutrona on crutches during the postgame huddle. 

“All indications point to it being serious,” said head coach Shawn Burke after the game on Sunday at UB Stadium. “It’s a tough blow. First and foremost, for her –– it’s her senior season and she wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament. I don’t want to speculate, but I think our players owe it to her to not let it define us.”

Cutrona has been the top scorer for the Bulls (9-2, 3-1 Mid-American Conference) since her sophomore season. This season, Cutrona has already recorded 8 goals and 8 assists. 

“When a player goes down it’s always horrible,” said freshman goalkeeper Emily Kelly. “With it being Carissima, it being her senior year and the caliber of player she is with, it’s tough for the whole team. I’m glad we got the win for her. It’s just sad.”

Cutrona remains questionable for playing in the ensuing weeks, but coaching staff said the situation is “not good.” The Bulls were still able to bounce back from the injury and controlled offensive pressure for the whole overtime with sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Walsh scoring the game winner. 

“It’s upsetting but people have to step up now,” said junior defender Gurjeena Jandu. “We are going to play for each other like we always do and just never take an opportunity for granted.”

Cutrona is the sixth all time point earner in program history.

The Bulls went 2-0 over the weekend after losing its first game since August to the Western Michigan Broncos (9-2, 3-0 MAC) on Sept. 23. The Bulls now sit behind the Broncos and the Bowling Green Falcons (6-3-2, 4-0 MAC) for first in the MAC following the win against the Eagles (7-6, 2-2 MAC).

The Bulls started the weekend with a 2-0 win over the Central Michigan Chippewas (5-7, 3-1 MAC). Throughout the first half, the Bulls played defensively. The Chippewas’ only pressure on the Bulls’ end of the field came from back-to-back corner kicks. The Bulls were playing solid defense in the mid-field, preventing any serious pressure.

The second half was a completely different story. 

The Bulls’ solid defense was being pushed back. The Chippewas began to fire more shots at Kelly. Kelly secured the shutout performance with seven saves, including a highlight-reel leaping deflection off of the crossbar with 25 minutes remaining.

“Even though [Kelly] is a freshman, every game she gets more and more confident and she’s solid back there for us,” Cutrona said after the game on Friday.

Kelly would have another strong performance on Sunday with another jumping post save with 20 minutes left in regulation. Kelly only allowed one goal and had 11 saves for the whole weekend.

Buffalo controlled much of the action but had trouble scoring all game Sunday. They out shot the Eagles 17-to-10 with Cutrona leading the team with five shots. It was the Bulls first overtime win of the season.

Burke could be heard yelling on Sunday from the stands on the other side of the field during the Eastern game. 

“As a coach you’re always a perfectionist,” Burke said. “With a shutout on Friday and the way we came back and fought to win this one, I am proud with how our team did.”

This marked the first 2-0 weekend for the Bulls in conference play this season.

Buffalo will be in action again on Thursday when it takes on the Kent State Golden Flashes (6-5-1, 2-2 MAC) in Kent, Ohio. Starttime is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com