UB women’s soccer qualifies for MAC Tournament
Bulls dominate 1-0 victory over Akron, punch ticket to third consecutive MAC Tournament
UB Women’s soccer (7-7-5, 4-4-3) played their most important game of the year Thursday afternoon against Akron. If they lost, their season could have been over.
Even in the cold rainy weather, the Bulls played at 100 percent from the first minute to the end. With the win, Buffalo finished the season 7-0-3 at home. Even though the Bulls only had one goal Thursday, they outshoot Akron 21-3. Buffalo’s defense dominated, as Akron did not have a shot for the entire second half. The Bulls created plenty of scoring opportunities and controlled the ball for almost the entire game and are now qualified for the MAC Tournament for the third consecutive season.
“We played phenomenal. I was very pleased and thought it was nothing but impressive,” said head coach Shawn Burke. “I think when you play this well, the game finds ways to reward you.”
The game was mostly a one-sided affair as Akron was unable to get anything going. Buffalo controlled the ball for almost the entire game. Junior goalkeeper Laura Dougall had two saves.
The only goal of the game came in the eighth minute when senior forward Celina Carrero launched the ball into the net off a header. The opportunity came off a near perfect pass from freshman midfielder Adriana VanCuyck. The win gives needed momentum to the Bulls, who hadn’t won a game in three full weeks prior to Thursday.
“After the game everyone was confident… this year we are definitely ready to take that trophy back,” Carrero said.
The Bulls had a very team-oriented game as almost every forward had a shot on goal. However, the Bulls couldn’t finish on several near-goal opportunities. In the 87th minute junior midfielder Julia Benati hit the post on a wide-open opportunity.
Buffalo came up empty on several breakaways, something they will need to clean up in the postseason. Burke thought that his team had issues finishing at the goal. He listed lack of confidence and ability as possible reasons, but assured that they would work on it heading into practice. None of that hindered Burke's feelings that his team was ready for the MAC.
Another reason that Buffalo struggled to finish was the outstanding play of senior goalkeeper Annabelle Hegeman for Akron. She stopped 11 shots on goal and kept her team in the game until the final whistle.
“We have to give their keeper a ton of credit. She had six or seven saves that were just absolutely phenomenal,” Burke said.
Burke feels that if his team carries this kind of play into the MAC Tournament, they could have a deep run. Buffalo is now awaiting their seeding in the Tournament. They will play their first matchup Sunday afternoon.
Thomas Zafonte is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org