UPDATE: As of the 4/11/07 Shamrock Lacrosse poll, the Bulls narrowly missed being ranked in the top 25 teams in the MCLA. Buffalo was the number one vote-getter after the top 25, putting them unofficially as the 26th ranked team in the nation.

At this point, it looks as if the Bulls will have to put on an extraordinary showing in the playoffs to gain a bid into the National Tournament in Dallas, TX in early May. Most likely, they will have to win the CCLA for entry, meaning powerhouses Michigan (#5) and Michigan State (#20) stand in their way.

As of now, the Bulls look to gain a first round bye in the playoffs by winning out their regular season. Please come out and support them against Western Michigan April 20 and Miami (Ohio) April 22!

Bulls Cool West Virginia, Illinois State

Despite freezing temperatures and snowflakes a-flying, the University at Buffalo men’s lacrosse team toughed out an Easter weekend doubleheader, beating conference foe West Virginia, 15-7 and Illinois State, 11-2.

The weekend, which was originally intended to have a game per day for three days for Buffalo, became a shortened affair when the University of New Hampshire team, whom the Bulls traveled to compete against last year, refused to make the trip to New York. In lieu of their absence, the three teams present played each other, totaling two games for each team.

Buffalo 15, West Virginia 7

The Bulls started the game looking incredibly sloppy and letting the Mountaineers play with them until half. With three goals in the first quarter and three in the second, the score at halftime was an even 6-6.

The Bulls exploded for eight goals in the third, led by senior attacker Ryan Mierzwa (Lancaster), who had six goals in the game, and sophomore attacker Brian Loeffler (West Islip), who added four goals and an assist. Loeffler leads the CCLA in goals per game and is second in points per game.

Junior attacker Matt Wachler (Syosset) added two goals despite and injured wrist and senior midfielder Mike Terranova (Fayetteville-Manlius) had a goal and an assist. Also with points for the Bulls were Owen Lipp (Saratoga Springs) and John Curaba (Coram) with two assists apiece; Andy Evans (Chenango-Forks) and Ryan Eastman (Hilton) with a goal apiece; and Phil Manez (Nanuet), Matt Beres (Hamlin) and Erik Tinti (Auburn) with an assist each. Senior netminder Jason Reynolds had 15 saves in the victory.

Buffalo 11, Illinois State 2

After one game in the frigid air of Kunz Stadium, the Bulls warmed themselves for a few minutes only to have to come back out for another game, this one against non-conference opponent Illinois State. The cold may have shocked the visiting Redbirds, whose only two goals were scored by sophomore attacker Mike Synek.

Buffalo played a solid game from end to end and improved their record to 5-2. Brian Loeffler (West Islip) continued his dominance in a six-goal, seven-point performance, while Ryan Mierzwa (Lancaster) continued his steady play, netting three. Erik Tinti (Auburn) etched a goal and assist and John Curaba (Coram) fired one of his own. Freshman Nick Edson (Amherst) had two assists, followed by Andy Evans (Chenango-Forks) and Mike Terranova (Fayetteville-Malius) with one each.

-Tim Lowden

Spring Break Trip Has Ups, Downs

The Bulls came back from their Spring Break four game away trip with one win, two hard-fought losses and one cancelled game. While a 1-2 trip was below expectations, the Bulls turned some heads in the MCLA with their strong play against two top 25 teams.

Florida State 10 – Buffalo 4

The Bulls came off a 24 hour bus trip to Tallahassee, FL to take on the #9 Florida State Seminoles in a non-conference battle on March 12. For the first 3 quarters, the game was a low-scoring affair, thanks in large part to the incredible play of Bulls senior goaltender Jason Reynolds (Iroquois), who made an astounding 48 saves.

The first quarter was marred by two unallowed goals (one by each team) due to illegal stick penalties upon measurement after the goals were scored. At the end of the first, the score was an even 1-1. As Reynolds repeatedly robbed FSU shooters, the Bulls managed to head to halftime down one, with a score of 2-1. The third quarter was a grinding battle as each team mustered two goals, making the score 4-3 heading into the fourth. During the fourth, the Seminoles, who had 10 games under their belt, began to show their experience over the Bulls, who were playing their mere third game of the season. FSU dominated the final quarter and left the field victorious.

Buffalo was led by junior attackman Ryan Eastman (Hilton), who scored a goal an added an assist. Also with goals were: senior Ryan Mierzwa (Lancaster), sophomore Erik Tinti (Auburn) and senior Sean Kelly (Harrison). Nick Edson (Amherst), Andy Evans(Twin Forks) and Ryan Kelly (Harrison) had assists. The Seminoles were led by Corey Noonan and Todd Matherly, who had four points each.

Buffalo 10 – Clemson 4

After a few days relaxing in the sun, the Bulls got back to action against the Clemson Tigers on March 15. The game was a triumphant rebound for Buffalo, who were hungry for a win after their tough loss three days prior. The Bulls took quick control of the game and never relinquished it.

Among the things coach Ryan Crawford was most proud of about the game was that it was the first time he felt the Bulls put together a solid four quarters of play. The Bulls spiked their play in the second quarter after a 1-1 end to the first to score five goals and head into halftime with a 6-3 lead. They added to their lead with three goals in the third and one in the fourth.

Senior leader Ryan Mierzwa (Lancaster) led all scorers with two goals and one assist and junior midfielder Tim Lowden (North Tonawanda) got his first taste of the mesh in a two goal performance. Brian Loeffler (Islip), Matt Wachler (Syosset), Erik Tinti (Auburn), Sean Kelly (Harrison), Ryan Eastman (Hilton), and Mike Terranova (Fayetteville-Manlius) all had goals and Matt Beres (Kendall) added an assist.

Virginia Tech 10 – Buffalo 9 (OT)

The Bulls were afforded a few more days rest as the scheduled game against N.C. State was cancelled due to inclement weather conditions. They traveled to Blacksburg, VA to take on the #19 Virginia Tech Hokies on March 18. The game was filled with messy ground ball battles due to a muddy field and cold temperatures.

The first half was sloppy in general, in reference to both the field and the play, especially by the Bulls, who couldn’t seem to get comfortable. Virginia Tech outplayed Buffalo to a 5-3 score at halftime.

It took two more goals by the Hokies for the Bulls to wake up and put on a remarkable comeback in the third quarter. Down 7-3 at one point, they went on a scoring spree, tying the game at eight by the end of the third. The fourth quarter produced one goal for each team as a spirited and inspired Buffalo team began to show their potential. After regulation, the score was an even 9-9.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, the overtime was short-lived, as the Hokies won the faceoff and scored on their first shot of OT. While disappointed at the loss, the Bulls held their heads high.

Sophomore attackman Brian Loeffler (Islip) seemed to return to form in a four goal and six point performance. Senior Ryan Mierzwa (Lancaster) continued his consistent and solid play with three goals. Sophomore midfielder Erik Tinti (Auburn) added a goal and assist to extend his point streak to four games. Freshman midfielder Nick Edson (Amherst) scored and Ryan Eastman (Hilton) had an assist. The offense was also helped by defensive players Ryan Kelly (Harrison) and Justin Bader (Suffern) who each broke over the midfield line and recorded assists in the heartbreaker.

-Tim Lowden

Bulls Begin Season by Taking Two on the Road

The Buffalo Bulls men’s lacrosse team started the season right by downing Pittsburgh (2-1, 2-1) on February 23 and Purdue (0-2, 0-2) on February 24 at the University of Pittsburgh.

Sophomore attackman Brian Loeffler (Islip) netted the first goal of the season with a wrap-around-the-crease goal into the top left corner early in the first quarter against Pitt. It was one of his game-high five.

After going up by two and then giving up two, the Bulls rallied for five unanswered goals to romp into halftime with a score of 7-2 and spirits high. But after the half, the Bulls early season rust began to show as the Panthers outscored Buffalo 6-1 in the third quarter and tied the game at eight. After working out some kinks, the Bulls came back in the fourth with strong play from senior attacker Ryan “Stoobie” Mierzwa (Lancaster) and managed to come away with two goals and a win, 10-9.

The defensive unit was tested early and often as the Bulls took six penalties in the first quarter and fourteen overall. Through numerous one and two-man down situations, the team was held together by strong play from senior goalie Jason Reynolds (Iroquois) and a stellar performance by the defensive lineup of senior Ben Loefke (Iroquois), sophomore Ryan Kelly (Harrison) and sophomore Eric Barbera (Williamsville South), who played well in his debut as a Bull. Senior defensive midfielder Matt “Neon” Beres was singled out by coach Ryan Crawford for his outstanding all around effort during the game. Reynolds made 18 saves, including a game-saving bounce shot by an unmolested Pitt shooter in an attempt to tie with six seconds left.

Aside from Loeffler’s five, Mierzwa and freshman Nick Edson (Amherst) found the net twice apiece, and junior Matt Wachler (Syosset) chipped in one of his own. Junior Josh Miner (Amherst) tossed Buffalo’s lone assist.

After shaking off the rust Friday night, the Bulls returned to Pitt’s Cost Arena to take on another divisional rival, the Purdue Boilermakers (0-2, 0-2). Buffalo’s offense looked more settled right from the opening faceoff, and the defense continued its commendable play.

Buffalo jumped to an early lead but found themselves battling in the second quarter as the Boilermakers upped the tempo and battled back to a halftime tie. After some soul-searching during halftime, the Bulls came out firing on all cylinders and never looked back.

The game was a night of the newcomers, as junior attackman Ryan Eastman (Hilton), who stepped in for an injured Matt Wachler, fired his first goal of the season and as a Bull, and freshman midfielder John Curaba (Coram) put two into the mesh in just his second collegiate game. Freshman midfielder Nick Edson (Amherst) added one and freshman defender Justin Bader (Suffern) played outstanding in place of injured Eric Barbera. Sophomore defender Ross John (Gowanda) set the tone by stepping off the bench and delivering a punishing hit in the third quarter.

The scoring was once again led by sophomore attackman Loeffler (Islip), who burned six into the back of the net. His 11 goals in two games puts him first in the conference in scoring. Also scoring were senior attackman Ryan Mierzwa with three, sophomore midfielder Eric Tinti (Auburn) with one, and senior Mike Terranova (Fayetteville Manlius), who darted towards the crease unseen and quick-sticked the ball in for his only goal of the game. Junior goalie Geoff Lehman (Orchard Park) made 15 saves en route to a 15-11 win and a 2-0 start for Buffalo.

The coming weeks will see the Bulls embark on a four game away trip to face Florida State on March 12, Clemson on March 15, N.C. State on March 17, and Virginia Tech on March 18. Although none of the games are against conference foes, the Bulls look to impress by posting strong performances against Florida State, who was ranked #9 in the Shamrock preseason Top 25 Poll, and Virginia Tech, who was ranked #14.

-Tim Lowden