Bulls Primed to Make Run at MAC Men's Soccer Tourney
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's soccer team is ready to open play at the 2011 Mid-American Conference Men's Soccer Tournament as the third-seeded Bulls take on second-seeded Northern Illinois on Friday, November 11 at 8:00 pm at Akron's FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
The Bulls (8-7-2, 3-2-1 MAC) picked up the third seed in the four-team tournament after they tied Hartwick, 1-1, on November 2 coupled with a 2-1 victory by Northern Illinois (12-5-0, 4-2-0 MAC) over Hartwick on November 5. UB defeated NIU in overtime, 2-1, on October 1 at DeKalb in the regular season meeting between the clubs. Lukas Fedler scored the game-winner in the 108th minute as the Bulls defeated the 18th-ranked Huskies marking the first time since 1997 that UB had downed a nationally-ranked program. NIU is still receiving votes in the national poll.
UB has relied on its defense this season to propel them back into the playoffs. The Bulls lead the MAC in saves (91) and junior goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi tops the league with 5.36 saves per game and second in the conference with 75 saves. Viscosi also has four shutouts this season while Ryan Aubrey, who stepped in for Viscosi in the last two games of the regular season went 1-0-1 with a shutout against Florida Atlantic and his .833 save percentage in conference games only leads the league.
Offensively, the Bulls have a pair of double-figure point scorers in senior Andy Tiedt and junior Maksym Kowal. Tiedt leads the team with five goals and 14 points and is tied for the team lead with four assists. Tiedt scored a pair of game-winners in September victories over NJIT and Siena. Kowal came on late in the season with three of his four goals against conference opponents including game-winners against Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic. Tiedt and junior midfielders Patrick Ryan and Risto Latti are tied for the team lead with four assists apiece.
The Bulls are also the only league team to have scored against top seed Akron, the defending league and national champion and seventh-ranked team in the country. UB dropped a 5-2 decision to the Zips on October 21 after twice leading the match. Akron (13-3-3, 6-0-0 MAC) will meet fourth seed Western Michigan (6-11-2, 2-2-2 MAC) at 5:00 pm in Friday's other semifinal.
"I am very excited about the MAC Tournament," said interim head coach David Hesch. "This is a huge accomplishment after losing our head coach [John Astudillo], our captain [Anthony Johnson] with a broken leg after the second game, and after losing 13 players from the 2010 squad."
The Bulls will look to defeat Northern Illinois for the second time this season to secure a spot in Sunday's championship match. "I feel we are in a tough spot and the boys will have to perform at a top level to beat NIU," said Hesch. "After beating them at their place during regular season they are going to be looking for some redemption. We are not going to let that happen. Our nucleus of Andy Tiedt, Max Kowal and Rich Craven are playing very well and should have a good tournament."