BALTIMORE, MD- FC Buffalo knocked off host Coppermine United 3-2 in a thrilling extra-time affair at Coppermine Norris Field to win the UWS Eastern Conference and advance to the UWS National Championships next weekend in Massachusetts.
The win marks the first conference championship in club history, and the club’s third playoff win in two years since joining UWS.
Goals by Ella Rudney, Morgan Kulniszewski, and Carissima Cutrona propelled the Blitzers to their second playoff win in three days, both coming on the road. Sarah Woods and Katherine Camper provided the helpers that propelled FC Buffalo to the UWS Eastern Conference crown.
The Blitzers would strike early in the match, with Ella Rudney collecting the opening goal for the visiting Wolves just four minutes into the game, by blasting a shot beyond the reach of the Coppermine goalkeeper after Sarah Woods set her up by digging the ball free at the top of the box. The score would stay 1-0 in favor to FC Buffalo until the 81st minute, when the home side evened the score and sent the game to extra time.
Extra time provided three goals in the span of 30 minutes, two of which came just two minutes apart. Super substitute Morgan Kulniszewski scored the first goal of extra time in the 96th minute following a series of quick passes by the Blitzers off a throw in, before Coppermine United struck back just a few minutes later to level the match at two. Team MVP Carissima Cutrona would net her 9th goal of the season in the 105th minute by burying a shot into the lower left corner from just inside the box to put the visiting Blitzers ahead for good.
Both sides were able to find offensive pressure throughout the match, but despite eye-catching score line, goalkeepers from each side made excellent saves to keep the score lower than it could have been. FC Buffalo’s Emily Kelly made consecutive outstanding saves in the opening half, first stopping a Coppermine breakaway before making an acrobatic save off a Coppermine corner to keep the Blitzers ahead 1-0.
The successes of the weekend are the manifestation of the Wolves’ character and team cohesion, with four different players scoring and three different players providing assists over the course of two games. The team was also given two long road trips to make as the lower seed, travelling a combined 1,025 miles during the weekend to defeat two hosting teams in route to claiming the conference championship.
FC Buffalo will now take part in the UWS National Championships at Lusitano Field in Ludlow, Massachusetts next weekend with teams from the three other UWS conferences to determine the national champion. The Wolves are no stranger to Lusitano Field, returning to the same venue at which the team defeated the New England Mutiny in their opening round playoff match on July 15th. FC Buffalo will represent the Eastern Conference, while the Calgary Foothills, Chicago Mustangs and San Antonio Athenians FC will represent the Western Conference, Midwest Conference and South Conference respectively. The semi-final matches will take place on July 23rd, with the final taking place on July 24th.