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UB women's soccer headed back to MAC Semifinals

Bulls win shootout over Central Michigan

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In the fourth round of penalty shots at UB Stadium Sunday, sophomore goalkeeper Laura Dougall quickly stutter-stepped toward her right to make a save.

But she didn’t even have to do that much. Central Michigan’s shot sailed wide right. Dougall was then mobbed at the goal by the rest of her Buffalo women’s soccer teammates in celebration as a somber Central Michigan squad was sent home early.

The No. 3 seed Bulls (11-6-3, 7-3-1 Mid-American Conference) defeated No. 6 seed Central Michigan 3-1 in a shootout to advance to the MAC Tournament Semifinals. The Bulls will play No. 2 seed Western Michigan (11-3-5, 8-1-2) on the road in the semifinals Friday looking to advance to the Championship game and win their second-straight MAC Championship.

“Champions are defined by how they deal with adversity,” said head coach Shawn Burke.

After a 2-2 score at the end of regulation and two scoreless overtime periods, Buffalo scored on all three of its penalty shots in the shootout. The Bulls got goals from freshman defender Brianna Shingary, sophomore midfielder Julia Benati and freshman forward Carissima Cutrona, respectively.

Dougall made two saves on four shots, with the fourth shot sailing wide of the net. She was calm in her demeanor in making a diving first save that gave Buffalo an early advantage. For Dougall, the preparation for the moment came during practice.

“The coaches and I saw tapes of their game plan with penalties,” Dougall said. “So I was pretty confident going in, just knowing their tendencies and which way they were looking to go. Made it a bit easier for me there in an important situation.”

The Bulls were one second away from a 2-1 victory in regulation until Central Michigan forward Alexis Pelafas scored the game-tying goal with one second left in regulation.

Buffalo’s defense allowed key passes that setup Pelafas to have a shot directly in front of net. Pelafas found a pocket in the bottom right corner and kicked the ball into the back of the net.

It was a play that Burke wasn’t surprised by.

“I saw it coming,” Burke said. “It wasn’t surprising because we weren’t working collectively as a defense. We weren’t working together as a group and it allowed their offense to find the holes and get in position to make that play. It’s just something we have to tighten up.”

The Bulls started the game strong, scoring a goal two minutes in off the foot of Cutrona. Cutrona received a pass from Benati, setting her up right in front of the Chippewas’ goal and allowing her to bury her third goal of the season.

After the Chippewas answered to tie the game at 1, the Bulls once again went on the attack. In the second half, Shingary scored her second goal of the season when she shot one past the Central Michigan goalkeeper from the right corner.

“There were several options on that play. I had a choice of whether to play it off to [Benati] or to just take the shot,” Shingary said, “so I took it and it found the back of the net.”

There wasn’t much action in overtime until the 107th minute. Both teams were at a stalemate until the Chippewas Kaelyn Korte received a good pass from a teammate and a clear path to the goal. But Dougall that came up with the season-saving play.

The Bulls travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to face Western Michigan in the MAC Tournament Semifinals on Friday. Kickoff has yet to be announced.

Romulo Romero is a sports staff writer. Sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com


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