Blitzers in school: FC Buffalo collegiate update
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • October 08, 2013 @ 3:44pm
Although FC Buffalo fell short against rival Erie in the NPSL Midwest Region Great Lakes Division, the Blitzers proved that—despite aims that were set higher than the end result—the future is bright.
After all, 17 FC Buffalo players returned to college this fall to suit up for their respective programs—ranging from Albany to Wisconsin—and this group of footballers represents the next wave of Blitzers who could follow the professional paths of Daniel Stevens, Krystian Witkowski, Kendell McFayden, Josh Faga and Mike Reidy.
Buffalo’s soccer fans are more familiar with the NPSL off-season exploits of Hartwick junior Chris Walter and Cornell senior Jake Rinow—the former scored the game-clinching goal in the Hawks’ 2-0 historic upset of No. 9 Akron (video below), while the latter played in the 2012 NCAA Division I National Tournament last season.
Here’s the graphic of how the dispersed Blitzers are faring for their respective college programs (unfortunately we were unable to track down Ozzy Morales—he’s not listed on the St. Lawrence University roster—and Nazareth’s James Wheeler is still recovering from the ACL injury he suffered this past summer.
Three reasons for excitement:
1) It’s thrilling to see Andrew Bednarsky return strongly from a rough end to a summer where he missed the final 3.5 regular season games and the playoff tilt against Erie. Despite a slow start during the non-conference slate, the senior midfielder exploded in St. Lawrence’s 3-0 win over Potsdam, notching a goal and two assists.
The captain—and No. 10—buoyed that momentum into the first two league matches where he also found the back of the net.
2) The quartet of FC Buffalo players who play fall-ball with St. Bonaventure—two of whom are transfers to the Bonnies (Figler and Skrabacz)—have all been instrumental in the Olean-based college’s hot start.
After not seeing a minute of action for FC Buffalo in the summer, Figler grabbed the starting goalkeeper job by the horns while Banker settled into his familiar defensive role.
Carcaterro and Skrabacz will take on more responsibility as seniors in fall 2014 once the Bonnies lose nine starters to graduation.
3) This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Blitzer diehards, but FC Buffalo stalwart defender Bobby Ross has parlayed his NPSL success into an electric start to his senior season, propelling Brockport to No. 6 in the NCAA Division III college soccer rankings.
While he emerged from relative obscurity to become a dependable starter for the Blitzers, he’s a marked man in the SUNYAC.
Three reasons for concern:
1) One risk that comes with playing for an Atlantic Coast Conference program like Syracuse is the constant battle for playing time and the annual tidal wave of heralded recruits that enter the program.
Ben Ramin, who showed glimpses of his immense potential for the Blitzers this summer—both as an outside midfielder and as a second striker—has taken a backseat to freshman striker Emil Ekbom, who just earned National Player of the Week honors for Division I.
In the same vein, gifted goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin has yet to see game action in 2013, biding his time behind sophomore classmate and former high school teammate Alex Bono. High-level coaching and the opportunity to train daily against pro prospects has its advantages, but there’s no true substitute for game experience.
2) Call them unlucky, but Canisius striker Asani Samuels and Albany attacking midfielder/forward Anthony Rozzano have struggled to produce—at least statistically—this season.
While Canisius head coach Dermot McGrane has heaped praise upon Samuel’s work-rate up front—he demands constant attention from opposing defenses—one goal on 29 shots (with just 11 on goal) shouldn’t satisfy the 6’5 Jamaican.
For Rozzano, no goals on 17 shots (undetermined how many are on goal—come on, Albany Athletics) isn’t much better.
3) There’s little question that Adam Lauko—who arrived home from school just before the midpoint of the 2013 NPSL season—will be an integral part of the future of FC Buffalo’s back-four, but he’s played sparingly for the Badgers as a sophomore after capturing Big Ten All-Rookie Team honors last fall.
While an obvious goal of Lauko’s is to add bulk without sacrificing pace, as in the cases of the Syracuse duo, there’s no replacement for match experience.
We’ll post the final stats of the Blitzers’ collegians when the fall season draws to a close in November.
(Header and bottom photo courtesy of Robin David Brown from the FC Buffalo vs. Detroit City FC match—see the full gallery here).