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Powered by Russell Cicerone, UB earning national recognition

Posted at 3:28 PM, Oct 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 12:17:32-04

He was the Mid-American Player of the Year as a junior and nominated for the College Boot as the nation's best player. As a senior, Russell Cicerone has continued to dominate on the pitch.

"You do have the feel every time he touches the ball, something dangerous is going to happen," Head Coach Stu Riddle said.  "That's the special X-factor not many players have."

The senior midfielder leads the nation in goals with 11 and is currently third in the country with seven assists. The Michigan native is also projected a first round pick in January's Major League Soccer draft.

"That's what you dream of as a kid to be a professional soccer player," Cicerone added. "All my life I've worked this.  To see it come together it's very impressive."

Cicerone's success on the field has helped propel UB onto the national stage.  Their 8-1 record at the beginning of the season tied for the best start in program history, and the Bulls are now receiving votes in the NCAA Coaches' Poll.

"That was the goal from when I first came here to get the program on the national level," he said.  "To see that we're seeing the results of that, it makes you really proud as a player of the organization."

"We've seen the senior class when they came in here, they were expected to play as a freshman and they did," Riddle said.  "Now they've got close to 75-80 games together now so we've got a very experienced group of juniors and seniors that are really making up the starting lineup and we're seeing that with the results we're getting."

But the journey isn't over just yet. With conference play beginning UB is eyeing a run to the postseason, a shot at a conference crown and earning a berth to their first NCAA Tournament.

"We've got five up finals is the way I phrase it to the lads," Riddle said.  "Everyone starts with an 0-0 record going into conference play, so no matter how anyone has performed to this point, it all goes out the window."

The first of those five cup matches that Coach Riddle alluded to is a rematch of the MAC Championship game as the Bulls hit the road on Friday to face-off against Akron. 

UB lost to the Zips 1-0 in the title match last year.