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Buffalo State, Medaille bow out of NCAA Tournament in first round

The national title dreams of Buffalo's two college programs in the NCAA Tournament came crashing down on Saturday, as Buffalo State lost 2-0 to Hobart and Medaille fell by the same score to Otterbein.

At Coyer Field, Hobart struck for two first-half goals - including a back-breaker in the 42nd minute - then withstood early second-half pressure from the Bengals to kill off the match and come away with a clean sheet.

In its first NCAA Tourney since 1984, Buffalo State nearly leaped in front in the 13th minute, as Luke Pavone's scorching corner kick pinged off the head of a Statesmen defender and off Hobart's crossbar.

Just three minutes later, the Statesmen dealt the first blow, as a perfectly placed corner kick by freshman Juan Widoycovich sailed over the head of Bengals goalkeeper Andy Queen - trapped in a mass of bodies in his own six-yard box - and to a vulnerable area at the back post where Patrick Schulz pounced to score from close range.

Schulz, the son of former Buffalo Bills safety Kurt, graduated from Clarence High School, where he was a teammate of the Bengals' Sammy Wasson and Victor Powell.

The turning point came just before halftime, when substitute Nate Cary exploded down the right side, serving a low cross from the end line toward the heart of the 18-yard box. The Bengals' Robert Williamson couldn't get enough on his clearance, and the ball fell juicily for Mouhamed Diouf, who smashed his effort low and inside the far post.

Buffalo State came out with a plan in the second half, hoping to trouble the Statesmen with pace. Despite some early chances for Luke Pavone and Danny Clavin, a red card given to senior reserve Bucky Benyehuda in the 63rd minute was the nail in the coffin.

[Look back at live tweets from both NCAA Tournament matches at @BN_Soccer on Twitter]

In Westerville, Ohio, Medaille clashed with the country's No. 10 ranked team, Otterbein. The Cardinals entered on a 15-game winning streak, with their last loss coming to Hiram back on Sept. 13.

The traveling Mavericks were dealt a blow before the match, when 6'4 center back Kyle Ferguson was suspended for one match after earning his eighth yellow card of the season in the dramatic Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship game against Penn State-Behrend.

With Micky Blythe's three top players - Anthony Marafioti, Mitchell Ali and Sam Beesley - all stationed in the center of defense for much of the match, the Mavericks couldn't afford to go down early.

That's what happened, however, as Otterbein's Noah Coons poked in a loose ball on the edge of the six-yard box, capitalizing off a scramble where he was the quickest to react. Medaille goalkeeper Callum Christie had yet another solid match, showing aggression and quick reflexes, but the Cardinals dominated possession and chances.

Medaille was buried in the 66th minute in unlucky fashion, as a top-class reaction save from close range by Christie led to a rebound that was knocked teasingly across the face of goal. Desperate to clear the ball from danger, left back Levi Bojang swung erratically at the loose ball, shanking it backward into the roof of his own net.

The achievements of both Buffalo programs speak for themselves, though, as Buffalo State's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years bodes well for the program moving forward. Medaille's trip to the NCAAs was the first since 2012 and the first under head coach Micky Blythe, and the Mavericks' youthful roster suggests that a return to the field next year is entirely possible.


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