There’s a soccer revolution going on at the University at Buffalo, and FC Buffalo will have two of the school’s key pieces in the fold this summer.
Playmaker Russell Cicerone, the 2013 Mid American Conference Newcomer of the Year, and impressive goalkeeper Waleed Cassis have committed to play for the Wolves this summer after terrific first seasons under UB head coach Stu Riddle.
FCB head coach Brendan Murphy said both commitments are big deals.
“Russell has been at the top of our recruiting charts ever since his first exhibition with UB,” Murphy said. “Within 5 minutes of seeing him play, (assistant coach) Bobby Roach texted me that ‘This kid’s got something special.’ We are ecstatic that Russell has committed to play for us this summer and I personally couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to coach him. I am confident that the fans will be on the edge of their seats every moment that Russell is on the field.”
Cicerone (University at Buffalo // Bloomfield, Mich.) scored six goals and added two assists for the Bulls as a freshman, earning All-MAC First Team status while ripping off 54 shots. Local web site GoUpper90.com has a video of one of his wonderstrikes here.
Cassis (University at Buffalo // Ottawa, Canada) came to UB after two remarkable seasons with California State University at Los Angeles, where he was NSCAA All-Region Third Team. In his first season in Buffalo, he impressed with his steadiness and athleticism between the sticks. Murphy says he fits his system well.
“Waleed is a natural shot stopper and an incredible athlete,” Murphy said. “What struck me most about Waleed was his distribution and his ability to start an attack. He gets the ball out quickly and can put the ball anywhere he wants with a side volley or throw. This fits in perfectly with how we want to play. Attacking soccer. He will give us the freedom to get numbers forward quickly and generate good scoring chances in a hurry.”
FC Buffalo co-owner and general manager Nick Mendola lauded the commitments.
“It’s very difficult not to be impressed by the caliber of player and attitude that Coach Riddle and his staff have brought to UB,” Mendola said. “Coach Murphy bringing Russell and Waleed into the fold is a message that Buffalo is a destination for soccer talent year-round, and Coach Riddle’s mentality as a coach and community member fits perfectly into our motto of ‘For our city.’ We’re very excited to follow the future of UB soccer.”
The Big Man agrees.
“Ever since Stu has come to Buffalo, he has done a tremendous job of entrenching himself in the local soccer community,” Murphy said. “His innovative ideas are truly helping to grow the game here in Buffalo. He has brought some incredible talent to UB and now he is helping his top players to see the benefits of staying here and playing for FC Buffalo in the summer. I appreciate his support greatly.”