BUFFALO, NY - Stephanie Velez came to Buffalo with one of the most dynamic seasons a freshman has ever had, but after injuries wiped out her sophomore season, she returned to a key reserve role but remained the heart of the team. In her second to last game playing in UB Stadium on Sunday afternoon, she regained that spark and scored the game-winning goal on a free kick in the 86th minute of a 1-0 win over Western Michigan.
"This whole game we had so many chances, and like much of the season we always look forward to that next play, next pass and next shot," Velez said. "We were working too hard for it not to come out with a win for us. I stepped up and said I want to take it. I haven't been able to shine as much this season and as soon as I scored I was happy that we still chance to be in the playoffs."
The win over the Broncos, who were ahead of UB in the standings for the final spot in the Mid-American Conference tournament, keeps the Bulls postseason hopes alive. After declaring the game a must-win situation after Friday night's loss to Eastern Michigan, head coach Michael Thomas was pleased with the team's play from first whistle to the final horn.
"The girls came out and played incredibly well today," Thomas said. "I keep telling people that we've played good soccer this season, and the team came out and showed what they were capable of all game. Steph has fought through a lot of adversity and a lot of injuries while she's been here, and it's a testament to her confidence and her mental fortitude that she could step up in that moment and make that shot. I'm excited to give ourselves a chance (at the MAC tournament) heading into the final game."
The Bulls came out firing on all cylinders, dictating the run of play throughout the first half. Despite the advantage in possession, though, Western put all five of its first-half shots on goal including three within the first 15 minutes of the game. Ainsley Wheldon made the stops though, en route to seven total saves in the game to give her her fourth shutout of the year.
"The back line played near perfect as you could play," Thomas said. "Ainsley handled all the routine stuff very very well today, but I don't know that she had to make a big save throughout the day and that's a testament to the back four of Shannon Algoe, Kristin Markiewicz, Sophie Therien and Natalie Jurisevic, who all played 90 minutes today."
The Bulls had a pair of open-net chances in the first half, but Broco defenders were there to push the ball clear. In the second half, the team came even close on two more opportunities that were also unsuccessful. Courtney Mann lifted a shot from 18 yards out over a crowded box to the far post, but it was saved by Western's Michelle Watson in the 52nd minute. Megan Giesen had the team's best non-scoring shot on goal all game just a few minutes later, lofting a shot to the high far post that glanced off the post.
Western Michigan's Watson almost gave the Bulls a scoring opportunity in the 61st minute after she came out to retrive a ball and stepped out of the goalie box for a hand ball. Buffalo had a chance to take an indirect kick from straight on at the top of the box, but Watson would rally and tip a high shot from Giesen over the top bar. Another foul call from almost the exact same spot would set up the team's eventual game winner.
In the 86th minute, Giesen again came through and held her ground as the Buffalo back line attempted to put a ball in the box from midfield. She was fouled right at the top of the box and set up Velez for the goal, as she tucked her blistering shot into the lower left corner of the net to set off a jubilant Buffalo bench. Velez was immediately subbed out for an extra defender, and as the senior came off she was mobbed by the reserves.
"It's been a rough road for me, but if it wasn't for my teammates and the people that I have next to me on the bench I would never have been able to get through it," Velez said. "Not playing in the first half was rough, but when you get called you need to make an effort to make a difference."
UB is certainly not out of the woods just yet, and with one game remaining in the regular season the Bulls welcome in rival Akron on Thursday. Still neck-and-neck with Ohio and Northern Illinois, Buffalo can still challenge for the seventh or eighth seed but a loss will likely cost them a chance at the tournament. The Bobcats will face Kent State to close out its season, and Northern Illinois will travel to Toledo to face the Rockets. Kickoff against Akron is scheduled for 3 pm.
Game story coming shortly.
MOUNT PLEASANT - Senior Autumn Hawkins scored her second game-winning goal in her past three games as the Central Michigan women’s soccer team clinched at least a share of the Mid-American Conference West Division title with a 2-0 win at Ball State on Sunday afternoon.
Following a closely fought 1-0 overtime loss to MAC East-leading Miami (OH) on Friday, the Chippewas (12-5-1, 8-2-0 MAC) outshot the Cardinals (8-6-4, 5-3-2 MAC) 22-9 and posted their ninth shutout of the season as the senior class notched its 60th career win to move into a tie with the 2011 class as the winningest of all-time in CMU history. The class is now 60-17-8 in its four years.
“Scoring two goals and shutting out Ball State is a great way to rebound from a tough loss on Friday,” head coach Neil Stafford said. “We really dominated possession in the second half and played the type of Chippewa soccer that has made us a successful team.”
With the win the Chippewas not only guaranteed at least a share of the MAC West title, but they have set themselves up to also earn the second overall seed in the MAC Tournament, which begins next Sunday, with a win against Bowling Green on Thursday. The Chippewas can be no less than the third seed in the tournament and will host their first-round MAC Tournament match.
Following a scoreless first half Hawkins put the Chippewas on the board first in the 56th minute on a header that went into the top of the inside of the goal to give the Chippewas a 1-0 lead. The goal, which is Hawkins’ third of the season, was assisted by senior defender Bailey Brandon and sophomore forward Laura Gosse.
Junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser put the game ultimately out of reach for the Cardinals in the 60th minute on a free kick that found the back of the next from the left side of the box, giving the Chippewas a 2-0 lead.
Hawkins and Schlosser’s goals were part of a strong second half in which the Chippewas outshot the Cardinals 13-5.
Gosse led the Chippewas with three shots on goal, including a header fifteen seconds before the end of the first half that was saved by the BSU goalkeeper. Another header just a minute after Schlosser’s goal nearly gave the Chippewas a 3-0 lead.
The Chippewas also had a couple near-goals bounce off the cross bar. Brandon and senior defender Samantha Brenz each headed shots off the beam in the 33rd and 78th minutes, respectively.
Senior goalkeeper Stefanie Turner recorded five saves en route to her 12th shutout of her career. The defense as a whole limited the Cardinals to just one corner kick, while the Chippewas took seven.
The Chippewas conclude the regular season on Thursday when they travel to Bowling Green for a 3 p.m. showdown with the Falcons.
Eastern Michigan 2, Akron 1 (2OT) Final
AKRON, Ohio – Trailing, 1-0, with six minutes to play in regulation, the Eastern Michigan University women's soccer team roared back to tie the game and win it in double overtime, 2-1, on the road against the University of Akron Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21. Sophomore Emily Dzik scored the game-winner off a corner kick in the 106th minute and clinched home-field advantage in the quarterfinal game of Mid-American Conference Tournament.
The Eagles (10-6-1; 7-3-0 MAC) held on to third place overall in the MAC and are guaranteed a home game in the MAC Tournament quarterfinal by virtue of their win combined with a Ball State University loss to Central Michigan University Sunday. The Green and White can finish no worse than fourth in the conference and still has a chance to share the West Division title with the Chippewas if EMU wins and CMU loses the final game of the regular season Thursday, Oct. 25.
The game remained scoreless until the 73rd minute, when Akron's Kelly Deniro netted the go-ahead marker for the Zips. Then with just over six minutes left in regulation, junior Cara Cutaia scored the equalizer to send the game into overtime.
In extra time, the EMU offense peppered Akron's defense with multiple scoring chances and put the game away when Cutaia perfectly executed a corner kick, which Dzik headed into the goal to send a jubilant Eagles' squad streaming onto the field in celebration.
After a quiet first half, the offense went to work in the second period, with EMU firing 13 second-half shots and six on goal. By the end of the match, the Eagles had accumulated 21 shots with 10 on target. Defensively, the Eagles did a fine job of limiting Akron attackers to just four shots on freshman goalkeeper Megan McCabe, who won her second straight match.
Dzik's overtime winner marked the defender's third-career goal and first points of the 2012 campaign. Cutaia turned in a three-point performance and registered her team-leading 20th point of the season (six goals, eight assists). It was also the third game this season in which the midfielder tallied at least three points in a contest. Sophomroe Marisa Kozikowski also added her third helper of the season on Cutaia's goal.
McCabe did her part to earn the Eagles their second 2-0 road weekend of the MAC season, turning away three-of-four Zips' shots on goal.
Akron (5-11-1; 1-8-1 MAC) lost for the fourth time in the last six games and was already eliminated from postseason contention heading into Sunday's contest with EMU.
The opening 45 minutes of play yielded few scoring chances as sophomore Molli Krick registered the lone shot on goal for the Eagles and Brook Carrel did the same for the Zips.
Play opened up a bit in the second half for both sides. Sophomore Bianca Rossi's shot in the 61st minute was scooped up by Akron goalkeeper Klaire Adee to keep the game scoreless. The tie was broken 12 minutes later when Akron's Katie Wise fed a crossing pass into the box and found Deniro, who banked a shot off the goalpost and past McCabe to put the Zips ahead, 1-0.
A goal against was perhaps just what the Eagles needed to spark their offense, as EMU went on an all-out attack to try and notch the game-tying tally. Junior Stephanie Clarke had a pair of prime opportunities to do just that as her first shot sailed wide of the goal and a second rang off the crossbar and stayed out. The Green and White continued to press as sophomore Angela Vultaggio let off another shot seconds later which was denied by Adee.
In the 84th minute, Eastern Michigan finally overwhelmed the Akron defense as Cutaia took a pass from Kozikowski and sent a kick from the top of the box off the goalpost and past Adee to make it a 1-1 game.
McCabe's save with four minutes remaining kept it a tie game and left the Eagles an opportunity to win it in regulation. In the final minute of the half, EMU received a corner kick. Cutaia's play into the box found sophomore Martha Stevens, whose header missed high as the horn sounded.
After the first overtime period yielded no results for either side, Vultaggio made a bid to end the game in the 103rd minute. Adee was able to make the stop on Vultaggio and preserved the tie. Eastern Michigan did not have to wait long after that to put home the game-winning goal, as Dzik bounced a header past the Akron keeper.
The Eagles wrap up the 2012 regular season at home against Western Michigan University Thursday, Oct. 25. Game time is slated for 3 p.m. at Scicluna Field.
Ohio 1, Northern Illinois 0 Final
ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio Soccer’s chances at making its fourth consecutive Mid-American Conference Tournament appearance improved significantly on Sunday as the Bobcats earned a 1-0 Senior Day victory over the visiting Northern Illinois Huskies.
Senior midfielder Cathryn Rogers fittingly proved to the hero for the Green and White on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Chessa Field, scoring her seventh goal of the season on a free kick in the 61st minute to give the ‘Cats the 1-0 win. The goal was the 13th of her career, placing her in a tie for ninth place in program history with Lindsey Price (2004-07).
Mattie Liston (Lakewood, Ohio) made four saves in the match, earning her sixth shutout of the season and the 16th of her career. She is now only 11 stops away from becoming Ohio’s all-time leader in goalkeeper saves.
The teams traded possession throughout the first 20 minutes of the match, with each side registering two total shots. Liz Finley (Mason, Ohio) recorded the first attempt on target, testing Amy Carr at the near post in the 14th minute. This portion of the match was also full of physical play in the midfield, as the teams combined for eight total fouls during this span.
Ohio (8-8-1, 3-5-1 MAC) controlled much of the offensive play throughout the first period, generating seven total shots. The Bobcats held a 3-1 edge in shots on goal in the first 45 minutes.
The Huskies (7-8-2, 3-5-2 MAC) came out strong to begin the second half, pressuring Ohio’s defense on multiple occasions. The Bobcats were able to absorb this pressure well, limiting the number of quality chances allowed to the visitors.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Northern Illinois committed a foul in its own end to set up an Ohio free kick. Erin Feeney stepped up to take the kick and alertly spotted an open Rogers (Etobicoke, Ontario) a few feet away. Feeny’s pass found Rogers in a good spot, and she was able to drive a hard shot into the penalty area from 30 yards away. Due to the good placement of the ball, the attempt traveled past the NIU defense and landed in front of an onrushing Amy Carr in net. The ball bounced in front of Carr, traveled over her outstretched arms and found its way into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.
The goal was the ninth game-winning goal of Rogers’ career.
Ohio will next be in action on Thursday, Oct. 25 at Kent State. The Bobcats and Golden Flashes will kick off at 3 p.m.
Kent State 2, Toledo 1 Final
KENT, Ohio – The Kent State women's soccer team (11-4-2, 6-3-1 MAC) tallied a key victory at home Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Toledo at Zoeller Field. With the win, the Golden Flashes tallied three points in the Mid-American Conference standings and remain among the top four teams heading into the final game of the season on Thursday.
Freshman Madison Helterbran (North Canton, Ohio) scored not only her second goal of the year, but second game-winning goal of the season with her effort in the 83rd minute to break a 1-1 tie. Junior Jaclyn Dutton (Bridgeport, Ohio) sent in a corner kick from the left side, which found Helterbran; from there, the freshman midfielder headed the ball to the far post.
After a 0-0 draw through the game's first 45 minutes, which featured the Golden Flashes facing a headwind from the west, Kent State was first to get on the board in the 54th minute. On a free kick from the right sideline by senior defender Hannah Newhouse (Strongsville, Ohio), sophomore Stephanie Haugh (Richmond Hill, Ontario) headed the service past the Toledo defense.
But the Rockets (7-10-1, 5-4-1 MAC) responded in the 59th minute when a Toledo attacker was fouled by Kent State in the penalty box. Natalia Gaitan scored on the ensuing penalty kick to knot the game at 1-1.
Both teams battled tough, with Toldeo finishing with a 13-8 lead in shots for the game, including a 9-4 mark in their wind-aided first half. Kent State had two solid chances before getting on the board: in the 15th minute, defender Katherine Lawrence (Ajax, Ontario) sent in a cross from the right that Dutton was unable to get around on, and then in the 50th minute Dutton fed Haugh with a through ball, but Haugh was unable to beat the Toledo goalkeeper to the pass.
Of Toledo's 13 shots, Kent State's defense limited Toledo in finding the frame, resulting in just three shots on goal; freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Senn (Grand Island, N.Y.) made two saves for the Golden Flashes. Senn's biggest save came in the 74th minute when she punched a long-range shot over the crossbar.
Kent State will conclude the regular season Thursday, Oct. 25 with a 3 p.m. contest against Ohio at Zoeller Field.