With the local college soccer season underway, we return last year's popular list of five great home matches to watch each week.
From Big 4 rivalry matches to Prep Talk alumni squaring off at smaller schools to crucial conference tilts, we will highlight a handful of games you'll want to check out.
Why you should go: The lone Big 4 rivalry match of the week could be a barn-burner on Friday night in Amherst.
Even though Canisius hasn't topped UB since 2010, the Bulls' recent string of results - draws against Binghamton and Brown before knocking off Navy - has been underwhelming. On a two-game win streak, including a 2-1 bouncing of St. Bonaventure, Todd Clark and his Griffs should at least pose a challenge on UB's turf.
Some top players: The Bulls' offense is buoyed by dynamic redshirt sophomore Carissima Cutrona, a Williamsville South graduate, whose quickness and scything dribbling can create chances out of nothing. Center back Angel Hart anchors a rebuilt defense, while Julia Benati is a serious threat on the wing.
The Griffs counter with an excellent ball-winning center back in Melanie Linsmair and upstart freshman striker Gretta Dry, who's forced herself into the starting lineup by her production - two goals and two assists in five matches. Maddie Good's transfer to the Griffs from Stony Brook to play with older sister Callie has further strengthened Clark's XI.
Whom you might know: While Cutrona is a former Billie, freshman midfielder Kara Daly, a Hamburg High School graduate, has carved out a bench role early in her career. The Griffs have an impressive local presence, as Dry (Lockport), Linsmair (Lake Shore), Emily Czechowski (Lancaster) and Savannah Jonathan (Newfane) all hail from the area.
Why you should go: This is very much a battle of known vs. unknown: Buffalo State made the SUNYAC playoffs last year and return all but one starter, while Medaille welcomes back only five players.
Bengals head coach Mark Howlett made several signings, giving him a very deep bench and the ability to adjust his lineup to any game situation. The preseason trip to England may give his side a bit of an edge in organization and continuity.
Expect Micky Blythe's Mavericks to play with serious bite, refusing to back down from the favored Bengals. Playing Plattsburgh evenly - despite a 1-0 loss - is a great sign for Medaille, though the side will certainly hope for more offensive punch after scoring just once in two matches.
Some top players: Buffalo State's Luke Pavone is back for his senior season after collecting first-team SUNYAC honors last year, while fellow captain Sammy Wasson runs the show in the midfield.
ECC transfer Drew Braun has stepped into Howlett's starting lineup immediately, while Drew Johnson, who transferred to Buffalo State with Pavone from UMass, gives the Bengals yet another scoring threat.
The senior triumvirate of goalkeeper Brian Arcara, outside back Prince Saysay and winger Jackson Hamilton brings leadership, experience and talent to Medaille, while Mick Lennox offers intensity and Fredonia transfer Mo Hussein injects bundles of pace.
Whom you might know: It's a BDSL reunion of sorts - Buffalo State's Wasson and Brandon Galanti (Celtic United), Braun (Sharpshooters), Devonte Black (BSC International) and Alex DiCarlo (Amherst Alliance) all play in the local men's league, while Medaille's Hamilton (Rangers), Hussein and Saysay (Bantu), and Arcara (BSC International) also suit up. There are 13 Prep Talk alumni between the two rosters.
Why you should go: Because two local schools are playing against each other on a beautiful pitch overlooking the city skyline and the river! Plus, it's a productive and supportive way to start your Sunday. Although neither team is expected to reach the playoffs in their respective conferences, the two rebuilding programs will look for small victories and local bragging rights.
Two of the areas promising young coaches - D'Youville's Brendan Murphy, who also coaches FC Buffalo, and Daemen's first-year gaffer Bobby McColl - square off at Dobson, if you like sideline storylines.
Some top players: D'Youville forward Dan Tarbell is probably faster than you are (Usain Bolt is not in my readership, I don't think), while Josh Hammer collected conference honors after his sophomore season.
Daemen's Cole Beale, son of East Aurora HS head coach Kevin Beale, has already scored once in his senior campaign, while fellow striker Alex Reid will likely be back from injury for this clash. Local products Joey Keem (Sweet Home), Connor Essenburg (North Tonawanda) and Ali Shawish (Lackawanna) have already carved out roles as freshmen.
Whom you might know: Daemen boasts seven BDSL players, while D'Youville tacks on four more. The Wildcats have 12 former Section VI student-athletes, while the Spartans roster 13. That's a lot.
4) Fredonia Blue Devil Clarion Hotel Classic - SUNY Fredonia, Baldwin Wallace, Buffalo State and Houghton for men; SUNY Fredonia, Baldwin Wallace, Mount Union and Oswego State for women. Full schedule of Friday and Saturday matches here.
Why you should go: There's a ton of soccer slated for the two-day tournament, and Fredonia's facilities are among the best in the area. It's a pity that Buffalo State-Baldwin Wallace and Houghton-Fredonia are at the same time Saturday, but life goes on.
Some top players: We've already talked about Buffalo State earlier, but Fredonia men trot out East Aurora graduates Ryan Keller, James Ritchie and Parker Healy, who all play significant roles. Midfielder-forward Sam Greco turned in a brilliant summer, while Keith Braun is a stellar defender.
The Blue Devil women return leading scorer Alexis Moreland, as well as 2015 starters Audrey Yokopovich, Kaleigh Creeden, Maggie Pappia and goalkeeper Kendall Owczarczak.
Whom you might know: Fredonia women roster seven Prep Talk alums, while the men roll with 16 Section VI alumni and 11 BDSL players.
[Listen to the "Football Club of Buffalo Show" at 5 p.m. Mondays, excluding Labor Day, on 91.3 FM WBNY]
Why you should go: You know what's hard? Building a program from scratch. And I don't mean that in terms of inheriting an existing program where the cupboard is bare, but literally beginning a soccer team that did not exist last season. That's the task facing Villa Maria men's head coach Mike Ertel and women's coach Amanda Janosky, who've recruited diligently to fill out their rosters for the college's debut soccer season.
Some top players: I have no idea! Neither team has posted a roster to the Villa website, although men's keeper Dominic Douglas made a whopping 18 saves in the Vikings' 8-0 loss to Penn State Harrisburg.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's really going to try to keep this under 1,000 words in the future, at firstname.lastname@example.org