Soccer surges in SUNYAC play

Freshman+August+Finn+and+the+Bengals+are+on+a+three-game+win+streak.+

Dave DeLuca/The Record

Freshman August Finn and the Bengals are on a three-game win streak.

Andrew David Kuczkowski , Staff Writer

The Buffalo State men’s soccer team is surging in conference play as they’ve finished another week undefeated and look ahead to another SUNYAC doubleheader.

The Bengals started the week with a game against the D’Youville Spartans this past Wednesday, the last non-conference game for Buffalo State this season. The game started off slowly until junior captain Luke Pavone hit the back of the net for the lone goal of the first half.

Freshman Bass Sarr opened the flood gates in the second half as he weaved around a defender and kicked one from the right corner of the box, his sixth goal of the season. Pavone netted his sixth and seventh goals, junior Alex Cassells and sophomore Tristan Myers scored their first goals of the season and the Bengals won 5-1.

“I feel we could’ve asserted ourselves a little more in the first half,” head coach Mark Howlett said, “and dealt with how compact they were a little better. That was disappointing. In the second half, they responded to what we said at halftime and it was fantastic.”

Coyer Field hosted Buffalo State’s third home game this past Saturday as the Bengals faced the rival Fredonia Blue Devils for their homecoming game.

Even with the poor weather, fan support thrived on homecoming weekend. The men’s soccer game was after the football game and many fans stuck around.

“This is what I want,” Howlett said about a strong showing of fans. “I mean, this is what the guys want. It’s a lot of fun. I think the guys bring this with the character we have on the team and how they are in the community on campus. I think that makes a difference and we are now building a program where we can be proud in the classroom and on campus as well.”

Buffalo State got an early lead when Cassells took a free kick from the 50-yard line, and Sarr headed it into the goal.

A controversial call helped the Bengals post a shutout as after a corner kick put the ball into the box, a Bengal tried to clear the ball out of a cluster of players, but deflected the ball off another player and into their own net. The play was reversed as the referee – and many emotional Buffalo State defenders – saw a handball.

In the 54th minute of play, junior Lorne Maxime had a breakaway, but the chance was squandered by a defenseman who pulled him down aggressively. On the free kick, Pavone ripped one off the left side of the crossbar and in for a 2-0 lead.

Pavone ran down the players’ sideline with his fist clenching his jersey, motivating the crowd in the high-intensity contest that had seven yellow and one red card.

“You can feel the game switch instantly after it happened and from then on out, we tried to see the game out and not concede,” Cassells said.

The Bengals held on to their 2-0 lead and ended the game with their fifth shutout of the season.

Buffalo State and Fredonia have an ongoing “Battle by the Lake” challenge. The rivalry adds points from each sport when they go head-to-head. After homecoming weekend, the Bengals have a 4-2 lead, with every win counting as 2 points.

“I love this team,” Pavone said ecstatically after celebrating with his teammates. “I love this coach. It’s a great program. We are rolling. We are playing incredible. We haven’t lost in the conference and we’ve only lost to two top-25 teams.”

The SUNYAC slate continues as Buffalo State (8-2-2 overall, 2-0-1 SUNYAC) will face Cortland (6-3-2 overall, 1-2-1 SUNYAC) on Friday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. and Oswego (4-5-1 overall, 1-3 SUNYAC) on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. Both games will be at Coyer Field.

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