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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Will women’s soccer defend its MAC Championship title?

Four conference games this season paint a picture of what the Bulls can accomplish

<p>Katie Krohn scored both goals in Thursday's game against Miami (pictured above), just one of several high-scoring games for the sophomore striker.&nbsp;</p>

Katie Krohn scored both goals in Thursday's game against Miami (pictured above), just one of several high-scoring games for the sophomore striker. 

Last year, UB women’s soccer won its second MAC championship in program history after a historic 17-game winning streak. 

But that was 2022. Looking at the current team, there were 10 new additions to Coach Shawn Burke’s squad, along with 10 departures from last year. 

UB (5-2-4, 2-1-1 MAC) most recently tied the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-5-6, 1-1-2 MAC) after a six goal classic ending 3-3 Sunday afternoon on the road. All six goals were scored in the second half.

Sunday’s game saw yet another Katie Krohn masterclass, as the sophomore striker scored a brace and recorded her fourth multi-goal game of the season.

Krohn now leads the Mid American Conference (MAC) in goals with 10, and is two goals short of the MAC top scorer last season, which was Bowling Green’s forward Kennedy White (who now plays for Mississippi State).

After the Bulls’ performance in their first four conference games, do they have what it takes to repeat as MAC champs?

Defense wins championships 

2022’s historic season saw the Bulls going undefeated in the regular season. They seemed unstoppable in the MAC, picking up seven wins and four draws. But this year, UB has already lost its chance of another flawless regular season after losing to Ohio in the home opener

The last time the Bulls lost a MAC opener was in 2019, when they fell 0-1 to Miami. That season, UB went 1-3 in its first four games. Even so, the Bulls made it to the semifinals of the MAC Championship.

Last year’s defense only let in four goals during the entire MAC season. And in the first four MAC games in 2022, they only let in one goal in a windy one against Western Michigan. They also held 14 shutouts, equaling the record of the 2014 MAC championship-winning UB team.

This year, the Bulls have already conceded four goals in just the first four MAC games.

UB went 2-1-1 in the 2021 season, when they fell to Bowling Green at Cochrane Stadium during the MAC semifinals. 

Bulls on the Offensive

UB hasn’t had a player top the MAC in goalscoring since 2020, when Marcy Barberic scored nine by the end of her season. But now the Bulls have Krohn, who’s one goal ahead of Barberic’s pace through four MAC games.

The 2022 and 2023’s teams share in common a shutout victory over Akron, but they differed when facing the Ohio Bobcats. The 2022 Bulls beat the Bobcats comfortably 3-0 in Athens, but the 2023 Bulls lost to them 1-0 in Buffalo.

That’s not to say that the Bulls are lacking in offense at all. Krohn has already doubled her goal count from last year, and UB still has a top quality goalscorer in Arianna Zumpano who led the Bulls in goals last year with eight.

In the 2022 Bulls’ first four conference games they netted eight goals, that’s only one more than this year’s team had in theirs.

Season’s not over

Whether the Bulls have the solid defense or the stout offense to defend their title is  uncertain. The only certainty? The season’s not over.

The Bulls play again on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. when they revisit Michigan, this time to play the Central Michigan Chippewas.

Ricardo Castillo is the sports editor and can be reached at ricardo.castillo@ubspectrum.com  

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