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College Power 10: UB men's soccer nearly cracks national top 25

The University at Buffalo men’s soccer team is off to a flying start behind star senior forward Russell Cicerone.

UB stands 6-0, its best start since 2008. Cicerone, who is very likely to be playing in the MLS next season, leads the nation in both goals (eight) and points (21).

The Bulls lead this week’s “College Power 10,” a ranking of the top Western New York collegiate teams in all sports and all divisions.

1. UB men’s soccer. The Bulls are coming off their best season in eight years after going 8-7-4 last year. Cicerone, a senior from Michigan, is the returning Mid-American Conference player of the year. His overtime goal won UB’s last game, 2-1, over Liberty.

The Bulls were picked for fourth out of six in the MAC preseason poll, but it was a close call. UB was almost even in the voting with No. 2 Western Michigan and No. 3 West Virginia. Akron, ranked No. 16 in the nation, is the MAC favorite.

UB just missed the top 25 in Tuesday’s national poll, finishing 26th. The Bulls are second in the Great Lakes region, their highest position ever. UB’s next game is Thursday at Niagara. That’s followed by a tough test at South Florida on Sunday. South Florida is picked for second in the American Athletic Conference.

2. Buffalo State track star Sasa Vann. She was named a top-30 honoree for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Ten women from each NCAA division were chosen from an initial list of 517.

Vann was a two-time All-America as a member of the Bengal 4x400-meter relay team and was a six-time SUNYAC champion. A native of Mastic Beach on Long Island, Vann graduated with a 3.81 grade-point average as a dual major in hospitality administration and psychology. Her career interests are focused on clinical neuropsychology and the study of posttraumatic stress disorder among women in the military. She also logged more than 500 hours of community service at Buffalo State. Nine finalists for the award will be named in late September.

3. Erie CC men’s soccer. The Kats stand 6-0 and have outscored the opposition, 38-8. Abdul Muhamed (Lackawanna) has eight goals, tied for second in the nation. The latest win was 1-0 over Corning CC on a goal by Kovan Dalil (Kenmore West). Last week Muhamed scored three times in a 6-2 win at Finger Lakes CC. Erie went 9-8 last season.

4. Erie CC women’s soccer. The Kats posted shutouts in each of their first four games and stand 5-1. The Kats had their most wins in program history last year by going 11-7. Freshman Abby Lombard (Lancaster) has 13 goals to lead the nation among Division III junior colleges. She had three in an 8-1 rout of Corning Saturday. Goaltenders Alex Zentz (Fredonia) and Hannah Clarkson (Sweet Home) each have two shutouts. Erie lost at Finger Lakes CC, 2-1, last week. Finger Lakes ended Erie’s season last year in the Region III semifinals.

5. Erie CC football. Prospects are looking up for the Kats under second-year coach Scott Pilkey. Erie finished 6-4 last season, its first winning campaign since 2007. The Kats are 2-1 this year after a 34-28 victory over Hocking College in Ohio Saturday. The Kats are off this week and visit Brockport’s JV on Sept. 25.

6. UB women’s soccer. UB is 3-0-1 in its last five games to improve to 4-2-2. Carissima Cutrona (Williamsville South) leads UB with six goals

7. D’Youville women’s soccer team. It has yet to allow a goal in starting the season 3-0-1. The Spartans earned a 0-0 tie Saturday against Houghton, which last season won the National Christian College Athletic Association championship. That’s a 96-school alliance. Houghton also is 3-0-1 and has allowed just one goal. D’Youville’s Megan Dulniak (Cheektowaga) and Houghton’s Rachael Fortney (Chautauqua Lake) were the goalkeepers.

8. Buffalo state men’s soccer. Tristan Myers has scored four goals to lead the Bengals to a 3-0-1 start.

9. Daemen women’s cross country. The Wildcats opened the season ranked third in the NCAA Division II East Region poll. Amy Trabert (Amherst) finished first out of 50 and set the 4K course record (16:20) in Daemen’s first meet, the LeMoyne Short Course Invitational.

10. Daemen's Ashley Cheff. She placed third out of 28 athletes at the Women's Collegiate Triathlon Central Region Qualifier on Sept. 5. Cheff, a graduate student from Niagara Falls, qualified for the Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship, which will be held Nov. 5 in New Orleans, La. She finished a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike race and 5-kilometer run in 1:05:22.

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