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10 Buffalo women's college soccer seniors who left legacies

Playing college soccer for four years isn't for the faint of heart. It's a grind, more than anything else, with plenty of social sacrifices, juggling of academics, never-ending bus rides and the challenges of how to coexist and thrive in a small community that spends an inordinate amount of time together.

With these in mind, all of the graduating seniors from college soccer programs in the area deserve some credit, but there are at least 10 seniors who've done something - either statistically, through leadership or another intangible - that will benefit the program beyond their departure.

Carissima Cutrona, midfielder-forward for the University at Buffalo.

What she achieved: The Williamsville South alum has etched her name in Bulls lore. She's tied for sixth in career goals (28), tied for fifth in assists (18) and sixth in points (74). Ten of her goals were game winners, and she earned just one yellow card in her 71 matches. Additionally impressive: Cutrona finished her career with more than 50 percent of her total shots on frame.

Why she'll be missed: No, Cutrona's senior season didn't end how she and her team had hoped. An ACL tear ended her season prematurely on Sept. 30; UB went 2-6 in her absence, an obvious sign how much she was missed.

Usually one to focus on the present, Bulls head coach Shawn Burke lamented how special a UB-Bowling Green late-season game could have been if Cutrona and the Falcons' Erica Hubert - teammates over the summer with the WNY Flash - had been able to go head-to-head in their senior campaigns.

A no-nonsense, stoic player on the pitch, Cutrona's ability spoke volumes; blessed with exceptional quickness, tight control of the ball, impeccable fitness and a honed sense of when to shoot and when to pass, Cutrona was a dynamo for the Bulls.

[Related: From 2016, Cutrona talks overcoming first ACL tear, transferring to UB]

Despite a shortened senior season, Carissima Cutrona will go down as one of the best players in UB history. (UB Athletics)

*****

Rebecca Bramble, defender-midfielder-forward for the University at Buffalo.

Why she'll be missed: Bramble's value to the Bulls wasn't really quantifiable - she notched only two goals and four assists across 74 career games, 43 of them starts - but her buy-in to Burke's philosophy and willingness to accept any role made her one of the first names on the team sheet as a senior.

The Brampton, Ont., native developed into a quality two-way right back, to boot, showing massive technical improvement from her freshman season when she was a fleet-footed reserve striker who brought little else to the table.

While it's unfortunate Bramble was part of the first recruiting class after the Bulls reached the NCAA Tournament, her college career will be defined as a selfless "glue" player who made sacrifices for the betterment of the team.

*****

*Marley Jarvis, defender-midfielder for St. Bonaventure.

Why she'll be missed: It will feel strange to watch St. Bonaventure without Jarvis in the side, as the midfielder-defender started 57 of 65 total games under head coach Steve Brdarski over four years.

Although the taste of winning was often elusive during her time in Olean - the Bonnies went 14-52-10 - the Rochester native persevered through adversity and helped lay the foundation for a team that should be more competitive in the future.

Although it's outside the scope of college play, Jarvis did earn the satisfaction of helping the Rochester Lancers squash the playoff hopes of the Western New York Flash in United Women's Soccer play this past summer.

*****

*Amelia Gulley, midfielder for Niagara.

What she achieved: The English midfielder was the metronome for a successful Niagara side in her final season, guiding a young Purple Eagles team to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinals.

Gulley concluded her career with one goal and three assists, spending her time on the back line early in her career - earning second-team All-MAAC her first two years, as well as a MAAC all-rookie pick as a freshman - before seizing a spot in the central midfield as a senior.

Her exquisite touch on the ball, understanding of how to play and field vision wreaked havoc on defenses who were already trying to combat the pace of forwards Kelsey Araujo, Hailey Bicknell and Annie Ibey.

Why she'll be missed: The fifth-year senior overcame a debilitating knee injury that cost her almost the entire 2016 season, receiving regular medical treatment so she could continue her career on Monteagle Ridge for two more years. Gulley's senior season was a reward for her perseverance and pain tolerance.

[Read: Gulley's experience, toughness binds Purple Eagles together]

*****

*Breanne Guevara, defender for Niagara.

What she achieved: As it was for Gulley, Niagara's deep playoff run in 2018 was a just reward for Guevara, who stood tall in the back for a program that had failed to post a record above .500, whether due to injury or other misfortune, in her first two seasons. The Purple Eagles conceded just 10 goals in their 10 MAAC games in 2018, statistical proof of a staunch defense and the fewest since 2015.

[Related: Niagara crunches Rider in MAAC quarterfinals]

Why she'll be missed: The defensive pillar cut out hundreds of attackers over her career, as Guevara was blessed with the height to win aerial duels and the stride to catch up to faster strikers. Like a shot-blocker in the NBA, the Canadian's presence was enough to force smaller strikers to think twice before contesting a header.

*****

*Melanie Linsmair, defender-midfielder for Canisius.

What she achieved: Linsmair is the exact type of player you want patrolling the middle of the park, either as a No. 6 or a No. 8 type. The Lake Shore High School product covered plenty of ground, tackled fearlessly and couldn't be taken off the field - her 1535 minutes as a senior finished second among field players to Emily Czechowski.

Linsmair's career stats - five goals and three assists - must be weighed against how deep she played positionally in her first three seasons. Her vacancy will be tough to fill next year for head coach Todd Clark.

Why she'll be missed: It's tough to write about Linsmair and Czechowski separately because the close friends were vital to Canisius' progress as a program, and their impact will likely be felt beyond their graduations. The team's CHER motto was a little cheesy, but the Griffs' continuity and toughness allowed it to play above its talent level.

[Read more about Canisius women's soccer during 2018 season]

*****

*Emily Czechowski, defender for Canisius.

What she achieved: The Lancaster High School product was part of the Canisius team that achieved a feat not accomplished since 2010: Beat the University at Buffalo. Czechowski played a key role at the heart of the back four in that monumental victory.

That 2017 rivalry upset will go down as one of the brightest memories in the Griffs' recent history, in addition to the 2016 qualification for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament. (The whole conference participated in the tournament in Disney in 2017).

We thought Czechowski and Linsmair were deserving of conference honors after their junior seasons, but the MAAC more heavily weights the accomplishments of players on winning teams.

Why she'll be missed: Czechowski's stature never exactly screamed "center back," but she compensated with soccer intelligence, guile and tenacity over her four years at Demske. It's important for Buffalo-area college soccer to feature players developed locally, and Czechowski - like Linsmair - remained close to home and developed into a top-tier college athlete.

*****

*Megan Dulniak, goalkeeper for D'Youville.

What she achieved: Although this list is a little weighted toward NCAA Division I players, it's impossible to leave the D'Youville backstop off this list. Cheektowaga grad Dulniak was a major reason the Spartans overachieved the last two years, making the playoffs in both campaign and winning a playoff match in her senior season.

Her list of accolades is long, and it's hard to pick the most impressive: 2018 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year, school-record holder for career saves (461) or the single-game saves mark of 28.

Why she'll be missed: Dulniak's leadership and focus were assets, too, as the Spartans' game plan was predicated on defending as a team for long stretches (across four years, that can become pretty wearisome). She rarely let in a soft goal, handled crosses with aplomb and was rarely in the wrong position, which made fairly difficult saves more routine.

Her consistency earned the faith of her teammates and head coach, instilling a confidence that if the offense could muster a goal or two, the Spartans would likely come out on top.

Perhaps most admirable was Dulniak's commitment to keeping her teammates' spirits high throughout an 0-8 non-conference campaign that preceded D'Youville's run to the conference semifinals.

[Related: D'Youville women's soccer advances to second-straight AMCC semifinal]

*****

*Monique Green, defender for Daemen.

What she achieved: Teammate Jamie Boyar's remarkable junior season may have stolen the headlines, but Green's sturdiness in Daemen's back line was crucial to the Wildcats' first-ever trip to the East Coast Conference playoffs.

The no-nonsense, stay-at-home center back finished in Daemen's top three minutes played in each of her last three seasons, part of another local team with a defend-and-counter approach.

It was a little surprising that Green was left off the ECC all-star teams in 2018, so she'll have to settle for the third-team honors she accrued last year.

Why she'll be missed: There are enough potent strikers in the stacked ECC for a top-notch center back to be a necessity for each squad. While center back partner Sam D'Agostino returns to the fold, there's no obvious successor to Green, so head coach Dan Dolan will have his work cut out in finding a replacement.

*****

*Abby Price, midfielder for Fredonia.

What she achieved: Fredonia women's soccer hasn't had many reasons for excitement in the last four years, but Abby Price's evolution from bench spark as an underclassman to relied-upon scorer in her final two years - in which she totaled 11 goals - caps off a solid career for the former Democrat & Chronicle Player of the Year.

Price snagged third-team All-SUNYAC honors as a senior, a tough year in which she shouldered the bulk of the scoring duties following the departure of Aleeya Clemons.

Why she'll be missed: Finishers are hard to come by in college soccer, and Price's graduation creates a gaping hole for the Blue Devils. The forward was the only senior starter on a team of primarily freshmen and sophomores, and her leadership and experience kept Fredonia in contention for the SUNYAC playoffs until late in the season.

*****

Honorable mention:

*Magan Magee, defender-forward for D'Youville. Beginning her tenure at D'Youville as a forward, Magee embraced a move to outside back as an upperclassman, earning second-team All-AMCC honors as well as a place on the All-AMCC Tournament team.

Magee, whose younger sister Makenna is a standout striker on the Spartans, was sterling at cleaning up messes in DYC's own 18-yard box and took pride in winning tackles.

*Marissa Campbell, midfielder for Medaille. Campbell is probably the toughest player on this list, returning from three ACL tears over the course of her career. She was part of a Mavericks squad that won three matches in 2018 after going win-less the previous two seasons.

*****

10 juniors with major expectations as seniors

*Maddie Beaulieu, Canisius forward
*Kristen Kline, Medaille forward
*Jamie Boyar, Daemen forward
*Kelsey Araujo, Niagara forward
*Kaylee Heschke, D'Youville midfielder
*Sydney Cerza, St. Bonaventure midfielder
*Adrianna VanCuyck, UB defender-midfielder
*Gurjeena Jandu, UB defender
*Alana Rossi, Canisius goalkeeper
*Lauren Malcolm, St. Bonaventure goalkeeper

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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