BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo women's soccer team will open up their 2017 campaign on Friday night on the road against Cincinnati. The Bulls will take on the Bearcats at 7:00 pm at Gettler Stadium.
The Bulls enter 2017 in search of their fourth straight trip to the Mid-American Conference Tournament after advancing to the quarterfinals a season ago and closing out the season with a 7-8-5 overall record. Buffalo will return six starters to their starting 11 including their top three scorers from a season ago. UB will be looking to continue their strong play on their home turf as they went 7-0-3 at UB Stadium last season, while improving on the road as they went winless, 0-8-2, away from home.
The Buffalo offense will be returning their top three scorers from a season ago as Second Team All-MAC performer Carissima Cutrona will look to build off of her career year in 2016 in which she posted 10 goals and 21 points. Cutrona returns for her junior campaign as the second highest returning scorer in the MAC which should put her in position for a push for MAC Player of the Year honors. Teaming with Cutrona to make a lethal pairing in the offensive third once again will be senior captain Julia Benati. Benati earned Second Team All-MAC honors last season after posting two goals and two assists as her creativeness was able to give Cutrona dangerous chances all season long. Senior Moira Petrie has also turned into one of the craftiest midfielders in the conference, making her a threat offensively after posting two goals and two assists a season ago.
UB will be looking to replace a couple keys on their backline this season but a group of experienced players will be looking to step up and help the Bulls become an elite defensive unit once again. The Bulls are returning a pair of players that saw major minutes as freshman a season ago in Gurjeena Jandu and Adrianna VanCuyck. Jandu proved to be one of the best center backs in the conference a season ago as she earned All-Freshman team honors after starting all 20 games. VanCuyck played her freshman campaign at right back but will make the shift into a center back role as a sophomore. The gritty defender started all 20 matches a season ago while also chipping in with two assists.
The Bulls will be looking to Meghan Simmons and Rebecca Bramble to step up and take over the outside back positions in 2017. Simmons has played all over the field for the Bulls over her career as she appeared in 13 games a season ago. Bramble will be making the move back from up top where she showed flashes of being an impact player a season ago, appearing in 16 matches and starting four as a sophomore. Freshman Marcy Barberic will be relied on heavily in the holding midfield position as she replaces graduated standout Andrea Niper.
The one constant for the Bulls over the past three seasons has been between the pipes as Laura Dougall has started since her freshman campaign, a season that saw her lead the Bulls to their first ever MAC Championship. Dougall now enters her senior campaign looking to cement herself as not only the best goalkeeper in UB history but also MAC history as her career 0.66 goals-against average ranks first in Buffalo history and second in MAC history. The keeper has also posted a program record 27 clean sheets and 32 victories over her illustrious career.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are coming off of a 2016 campaign that saw them earn an 11-5-4 overall record and a 4-3-2 American Athletic Conference mark. The 11-win season marked the Bearcats third straight double-digit win season in a row, marking the first time since 2000-02. Cincinnati will be led offensively by Julie Gavorski who was selected to the AAC's Preseason All-Conference team after leading the Bearcats with eight goals, 17 points and four game-winning goals a season ago. Defensively, the home squad will be anchored by Vanessa Gilles who has been named as the AAC's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons. She also earned a spot on TopDrawerSoccer.com's Women's D1 Preseason Best XI Third Team.
The Bulls will hit the road again next weekend as they travel to Columbus, OH to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, August 26 at 7:00 pm.