Central Michigan To Face Miami In MAC Women's Soccer Final

Updated 11/7/2009

2009 MAC Women's Soccer Tournament Photo Gallery




Stories courtesy of MAC Sports Information Departments

Central Michigan 0, Toledo 0
(CMU advances on penalty kicks, 4-2)
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Central Michigan, MOUNT PLEASANT - For the second time this season, the Chippewas and Rockets played a scoreless tie for 110 minutes, but the Chippewas advanced in penalty kicks, 4-2, to clinch a berth in the Mid-American Conference Tournament finals for the first time since 2004 on Friday.

Central (15-3-3, 9-0-2 Mid-American) will face Miami, who defeated Eastern Michigan, 2-1, in the MAC Tournament championship match on Sunday at 1 p.m.

CMU came out strong in the first half, taking the first four shots and a corner kick in the first 19 minutes. Chelsi Abbott nearly put the Chippewas up in the 10th minute when her header beat UT goalkeeper Vicki Traven, but clanged off the crossbar.

The Rockets picked things up in the middle of the first half and nearly had a goal of their own when a corner kick ended up at the foot of Jaimie Morsillo just in front of the goalie box at the left side, but her shot sailed over the net and the teams remained deadlocked at halftime. CMU outshot UT, 7-4, in the opening frame.

Toledo controlled long stretches of the second half, pinning Central in its own end for the majority of the final regulation period. The Rockets owned a 5-1 advantage in shots and took the only corner kick in the final 45 minutes, but were unable to find the back of the net.

"I want to give Brad Evans and his staff a lot of credit on Toledo's end," head coach Tom Anagnost said. "Those seniors have a lot to be proud of, they made it difficult on us."

The teams played a defensive-oriented overtime as CMU fired the only shot and took the only corner kick of the extra 20 minutes.

In the penalty kicks, Central called upon senior goalkeeper Kristen Hubright to face Toledo's shooters for her first appearance since Oct. 28, 2007.

The Chippewas came up empty in their first kick as Claire Horton's blast beat Traven high, but hit the crossbar.

The Rockets returned the favor as Molly Cornwell's shot drew iron as well.

Molly Gerst and UT's Ali Leak each converted on their attempts, evening the score at 1-1 through two shooters.

In the third round, Liesel Toth drilled a shot past Traven to give the Chippewas the lead. Toledo's Kristen Lynn blasted a shot to the left side and Hubright made a tremendous save, diving to her right to turn the shot aside.

"I am extremely proud of Kristen Hubright," Anagnost said. "She made the play that I thought she would make. She is a special player who has great reaction time in these situations."

Stephanie Martin and Toledo's Erin Flynn traded tallies in the fourth round, giving Bailey Brandon an opportunity to put the Chippewas in the finals. The freshman ripped a clutch shot into the back of the net to end the contest and extend Central's postseason run.

"Our kids persevered through the match," Anagnost said. "They were committed the whole way through and grinded out a difficult match."

Shay Mannino got the start in goal and stopped all three shots for her 15th shutout this season and 27th of her career, tying Anne Decker's school record and two clean sheets shy of Lindsay Curnock's MAC record.

Sunday's contest against the RedHawks will be the second time the Chippewas have hosted MU this season. CMU claimed a 1-0 victory on Oct. 11.

Miami 2, Eastern Michigan 1
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - The Miami University women's soccer team will play for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002 on Sunday, after earning a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over second-seeded Eastern Michigan in the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament Friday afternoon at a cool and cloudy CMU Soccer Complex. The sixth-seeded RedHawks (12-7-1) will now face host and top-seeded Central Michigan, who beat fifth-seeded Toledo on penalty kicks in the first semifinal, Sunday in the MAC Championship game at 1 p.m. ET.

Miami, who is now riding a four-game winning streak, its first since 2002 when the 'Hawks won the MAC Tournament and won its first round NCAA Tournament game, defeated the Eagles (11-4-6) for the second time this year (EMU's only MAC losses), snapping their seven-game unbeaten streak to end their season. Miami is now 3-0-1 against EMU in the MAC Tournament and 8-8-1 all-time versus Eastern Michigan.

The Eagles had opportunities early, but senior keeper Krista Pace (Toronto, Ont.) made a stop in the sixth minute while Katie Marsh's blast from 30 yards out sailed high in the 13th minute. Freshman Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) had a chance to put Miami on top in the 25th minute but EMU keeper Monique Budani charged across the goal to make the stop.

Neither side was able to produce much offense in the opening half, as the Eagles held a 5-1 shot advantage while neither side earned a corner kick. Pace finished with three saves in the half to keep the match even at 0-0.

Miami had the wind at its back in the second half and senior Jodi Zwingelberg (Elgin, Ill.), a 2009 First-Team All-MAC selection, wasted no time using it as she blasted a shot from 20 yards away just over three minutes into the period, but Budani corralled the shot. Just over three minutes later in the 52nd minute, the Eagles broke the deadlock as senior Ashley Rodrigues, the 2009 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, scored her league-leading 10th goal on a cross from fellow senior Carissa Wilson.

 

Junior Sara Lund (Malmo, Sweden) looked to answer off the ensuing kickoff, however her attempt was blocked. The 'Hawks kept the pressure on though, earning a pair of corner kicks. A header by senior Stephanie Laser (Hinsdale, Ill.) was deflected away by Budani to keep the Eagles on top.

"We went down 1-0 and we haven't responded well to that situation this year," head coach Bobby Kramig said. "We actually worked on that in practice this week, 'What if we're down a goal, what if we're up a goal.' We had seen Eastern before and had a sense of what they were going to do. The kids just focused on the plan and they were patient and disciplined."

After Pace made a finger-tip save to keep it a one-goal game and a pair of EMU corners came up empty, Miami earned a penalty kick in the 65th minute when sophomore Krysti Clarke (Scarborough, Ont.) was taken down by Jessica Thomas in the box and senior Allison Berkey (Hopkinton, Mass.) converted the kick to even the match at 1-1. The goal was Berkey's seventh of the season and Miami's second made penalty kick in three tries this year.

The Eagles earned a free kick near the top of the penalty box just a minute later but the shot flew over the crossbar. Lund had a header in the 67th minute that was saved but in the 71st minute, Lund's head connected with a cross from Kodiak that beat Budani to give Miami its first lead of the match, 2-1. It was her team-leading eighth goal of the year and her second of the tournament.

EMU earned a corner with less than five minutes to play and Rodrigues fired a final shot in the 89th minute, but Pace was there to make the save and send the RedHawks to the title game.

"Overall, we're really excited to finally get results for the hard work we've put in this season," Lund said of the win. "We've all stayed very composed and worked very hard together. I think what's been keeping us going, and now in the tournament, is that we really trust each other, always have each other's back and have a lot of fun while doing it, so I think that's been a big difference from previous years and the key to our success this year."

The match finished with the shot count even at 9-9, as Miami out-shot Eastern Michigan 8-4 over the final stanza, while EMU held a slight, 3-2 edge in corners. Pace finished with four saves for Miami while Budani made five stops (four in the second half) in the loss.

The RedHawks will now make their fifth MAC Championship game appearance in program history and first since 2002. Miami was won three MAC Tournament titles (from 2000-2002) and lost the 1999 title game on penalty kicks to Eastern Michigan. The 'Hawks are 3-1 all-time against Central Michigan in the MAC Tournament, including a win in the 2001 title game, but CMU (15-3-3) beat Miami, 1-0, on Oct. 11 this year on its home field.

Live stats will be available for Sunday's championship match on MURedHawks.com.