Western Michigan gets revenge, ends UB women's soccer's season

Broncos defeat Buffalo 1-0 in MAC Semifinals

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Consider the Buffalo women’s soccer team and Western Michigan even.

The Broncos (12-3-5, 8-1-2 MAC) ended the Bulls’ (11-7-3, 7-3-1 Mid-American Conference) season with a 1-0 victory in the MAC Semifinals Friday, one season after Buffalo defeated Western Michigan 1-0 in the conference championship game.

After the win in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Broncos face Miami Ohio (11-7-2, 6-4-1 MAC) for the conference title on Sunday.

“The two best teams in the conference just played in the semifinal,” said head coach Shawn Burke. “You have to tip your hats to Western Michigan. Both teams had chances and they took advantage of theirs.”

In the 85th minute, Western Michigan went on a fast break down the right sideline and into Buffalo’s box. Candice Uhl dribbled the ball around the right side and made a quick pass to Emma Kahn. Kahn then quickly put the shot into the back of the net to give Western Michigan a 1-0 lead with five minutes remaining.

The Broncos’ experienced offense took over and kept the ball cornered for the rest of the matchup until the final whistle was blown.

The Bulls’ defense had been nearly perfect before that point.

“They stood firm,” Burke said. “We always tell our girls, you have to give yourself a chance. We just couldn’t find that breakdown. I think their keeper had a phenomenal save in the first half … It was one of those times where it bends but never breaks.”

The touted Western Michigan defense lived up to its hype on Friday with a scintillating performance of ball control and quality shots allowed. The Broncos held Buffalo to only nine total shots and four shots on goal. Senior midfielder Kassidy Kidd was the only player with two shots on goal. Junior forward Celina Carrero and freshman defender Brianna Shingary were the other two players to get one on goal.

The biggest defensive play for Western Michigan was in the first five minutes of the matchup.

In the fifth minute, Kidd broke the defense and had an open shot, but Western Michigan goalkeeper Stephanie Heber made a fantastic save to swing early momentum away from Buffalo.

“I don’t think it discouraged our players at all, which is encouraging,” Burke said. “You just have to tip your hats to Western’s goalkeeper.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Laura Dougall came up with a big save in the 56th minute to keep a scoreless game for the time being. She made four saves on the afternoon.

It’s possible fatigue could have been an issue toward the end of the game. The Broncos rotated six players on damp, wet field conditions whereas Buffalo rotated only three players.

The loss officially ends Buffalo’s chance to repeat as MAC Champions. The Bulls went 16-3-3 and undefeated in MAC play last year enroute to winning their first-ever conference championship and making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Bulls’ 27 victories over the past two seasons are the most in program history since the 1999 – 2000 seasons.

“The biggest question mark we had going in [to the season] was how do we respond and play to expectations to what we did last year?” Burke said. “We knew we were going to hear about it al season long … They gave themselves a chance to win a MAC Championship.”

Jordan Grossman is co-senior sports editor and can be reached at jordan.grossman@ubspectrum.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jordanmgrossman.