BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's soccer team (12-3-3, 2-1-2 MAC) advanced to the Mid-American Conference Championship match for the second straight season on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium after the Bulls pulled out a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory over No. 2 seeded Bowling Green in the MAC semifinals. David Enstrom headed home the game-winner just four minutes into overtime to move Buffalo onto their second straight MAC Championship match for the first time in program history.
The Bulls will meet up with the Zips in the MAC Championship match for the second straight season on Sunday after Akron was able to down Western Michigan 4-0 on Friday night. This marks the third MAC Championship appearance for the Bulls, all three coming against the Zips.
The two sides had a historic battle last season in the Championship game as the top-seeded Zips eventually came out with the 1-0 win to win their fourth straight MAC crown. The Zips notched a goal with 30 seconds left in the opening half and held onto the victory despite multiple good chances to tie the match down the stretch by the Bulls.
With their 12th win on Friday night, the Bulls have now collected their most wins in a season since 2005 when they won 14. After advancing to his second straight MAC Championship match, head coach Stu Riddle has now been in the championship game four times in the past seven seasons.
Russell Cicerone has been the spark for the UB offense this season as he is leading the MAC in scoring with 13 goals, nine assists and 35 points on the year, all career-highs. The Bloomfield Hills, MI native also collected First-Team All-MAC honors for the fourth straight season as he became the first UB player and third player in MAC history to do so.
Senior captain Braden Scales also was a huge contributing factor to the Bulls success in the offensive third of the pitch as he was able to notch a career-high five goals and one assist for 11 points. Freshman Rikard Lindqvist had a strong start to his career as he netted three goals and recorded five assists for 11 points. Junior transfer Tommy Fogarty-Cameron had a strong finish to his season as he has netted three goals and two assists for eight points while senior Steven Stryker chipped in with four assists off the bench.
The Buffalo defense has been a strength all season long and a pair of defenders, David Enstrom and Nick Forrester, were rewarded for their strong play with All-MAC recognition. Enstrom earned First-Team All-MAC honors and netted the game-winner in the MAC Semifinal on Friday while Forrester earned Second-Team All-MAC honors after the UB defense secured a MAC-high 10 clean sheets on the year. Between the pipes, junior Joseph Kuta had one of the best seasons in UB history as he earned a 12-3-3 record to go along with a 0.80 goals-against average and 10 shutouts, tying Bobby Shuttleworth's program record for shutouts in a season.
The Zips enter Sunday's championship game with an 11-5-3 overall record after winning their last three matches by a combined score of 10-2. The Zips attack is led by senior Adam Najem who has netted five goals and five assists for 15 points while Stuart Holthusen has been on fire as of late, scoring five of his seven goals in the last three matches, all wins. MAC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Lewis is having a great first collegiate season as he has netted two goals and a team-best 10 helpers for 14 points. In goal, Ben Lundt owns an 11-5-3 record to go along with a 1.16 goals-against average and nine clean sheets.
The winner of Sunday's MAC Championship match will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.