BUFFALO, NY - Highlighted by a furious offensive outburst in the final 20 minutes of the game, the Buffalo men's soccer team ended its four-game home stand Friday night with a 2-1 loss to Detroit (2-3). The game was largely uneventful through the first 73 minutes, before all three of the game's goals were tallied. Joey Merlo scored the team's goal, while Jon Viscosi made six saves.
The first half passed without much fanfare, with Viscosi scooping up three saves and the Bulls (1-3-1) offense mustering just two shots while the Titans put up 10. In the fourth minute, Richard Craven put a well-placed corner kick on the head of Risto Laetti, but the senior's header went just inches wide of the near post, capping the team's best opportunity of the first 45.
As has been the case for the Bulls all season to this point, the halftime adjustments helped to spur a reinvigorated offense. Through the season's first five games, Buffalo has attempted 45 shots in the second half compared to just 18 in the first.
The game began to hit a feverish pitch in the 59th minute, when a hard-charging attempt to clear away the ball at the top of the 18-yard box by Viscosi drew a penalty kick attempt for the visitors. The senior earned a bit of redemption and had the bench on its feet after he made the huge save on the penalty that preserved the scoreless tie. Detroit's Moustafa Bazzi tried to go low right with a ground ball on frame that was pushed clear for a corner kick.
Luck would run out on the UB defense in the 74th minute, though, with the Titans opening the scoring. After a Detroit corner kick, the ball wasn't cleared away well enough and ended up on the foot of Kevin Pinkos, who had taken the corner kick. He took the ball up to the left edge of the 18-yard box and bent a short cross into the box for 6-foot-6-inch Titan Adam Bedell, who put his header home for the score. The Bulls nearly managed an instant answer, withMarek Albert finding an opening from the top of the 18-yard box for a cracking head-on attempt that was pushed away.
Detroit would add to the lead just under five minutes later after an attempted clear from Viscosi and an ensuing scrum at the top of the box would lead to a wide-open opportunity for Detroit's Matt Harkema in the 78th minute.
This time, though, the Bulls attempt to answer back would be successful and swift. On the opening kickoff following the Titan goal, Buffalo's Patrick Ryan took the ball on the right side and beat his defender to goal. He then possessed it long enough for his teammates to make their runs into the box. After a patient moment, Ryan crossed the ball to the low left post and found the boot of Joey Merlo, who beat the turned-around goalkeeper low and injected new life into the attack.
In the 84th minute, a red card against Matthew Cheresonwould saddle the Bulls with a man disadvantage. Despite that fact, the Bulls remained on the attack until the closing seconds, when Detroit's counter attack killed off the remaining opportunity.
"I thought we did enough to win the game, we had our chances, we moved and possessed the ball and had shots. It's tough to play against a team that's so direct and good off of set pieces," head coach David Hesch said. "Jon stepped up big to stop that penalty kick and our defense stepped up but we fell asleep and lost track of runners and it was just them being taller than us at the end of the day."
It was a physical game, with 29 combined fouls and four yellow cards, including a double yellow against Chereson. After being out shot 10-2 in the first half, the Bulls matched Detroit with 10 second-half attempts.
After four straight home games, the team will now have three on the road. First will be Cornell this Sunday at 4 pm, with games at NJIT and Stony Brook to follow.