Rikard Lindqvist was supposed to be an integral part in facilitating the transition between University at Buffalo men's soccer coaches.
The Swedish freshman proved to be a building block in his first season in Amherst, playing three different roles in the Bulls' spine and also contributing on the wing. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Lindqvist, who tied for second on the Bulls in scoring and was named to BN Soccer's Rising XI, boasted the most potential among those on the returning roster.
With the news that Lindqvist would follow departed coach Stu Riddle to Northern Kentucky University - coupled with starting goalkeeper Joseph Kuta's decision to leave - the rebuilding project for new UB head coach Davie Carmichael and his staff becomes even more critical.
Time will tell if the Bulls will sink to the depths of the last coaching transition; Riddle's squad went 3-11-4 in his first year with the program after a move from Western Michigan. During that season, Riddle kept just six players from the previous regime, rostered 10 freshmen and signed three transfers.
Carmichael must deal with eight departing seniors - including Major League Soccer SuperDraft pick Russell Cicerone - in addition to the two transfers out. The Bulls should be in decent shape defensively, especially in the middle, as Fox Slotemaker and Nick Forrester finished 2016 on a roll as center back partners, while David Enstrom picked up all-MAC honors for his work at holding midfield.
Senior-to-be keeper Cameron Hogg, who could have another season of eligibility if he chose to red-shirt last season (Kuta played every minute in net), owns 12 collegiate starts to his name, with a record of 4-6-2 and a goals against average of 1.52.
In an interview, Carmichael was quick to mention the Kiwi's name as a player primed to step up and fill the void.
Late-season breakout star Tommy Fogarty-Cameron headlines the returning offensive players, while 6'5 striker Scott Doney, who scored just one goal last fall, joins local product Hunter Walsh in the attacking unit.
Underclassmen Felipe Vieira, Ryan Aspenleiter and Ethan Witkowski were not part of Riddle's rotation, but all three could get a chance under Carmichael.
From talking to the new Bulls head coach, the initial signings of Cameron Law (Clarence), Nemanja Simic (Grand Island), Sebastian Diaz and Hugo Guerra predominantly represent a focus on the fruits of the local U.S. Soccer Development Academy system in New York State. Still, there's no doubt Carmichael has his work cut out for him to fill out the rest of his roster.
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