Women’s soccer to face Toledo on neutral site for MAC semifinals
The outcome of today’s 2 p.m. semifinal game between the Central Michigan women’s soccer and Toldeo determines which team will compete Sunday for another Mid-American Conference Championship.
The last six MAC Championships have been won by Toledo or CMU, with Toledo claiming four and CMU holding the other two.
In this year’s regular season play, the Chippewas shut out Toledo, 2-0.
“I just remember that game was physical for sure,” head coach Neil Stafford said. “That game allowed us to have to change our game on the fly and helped us learn to finish our chances.”
Beginning with the win against the Rockets, the Chippewas continued to capitalize on scoring opportunities and have outscored opponents 17-3 in their last eight matches.
Within those last eight matches, CMU only dropped one contest—a double overtime 1-0 loss to Miami (Ohio).
On Sunday, CMU defeated Northern Illinois 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinal match against Toledo. After defeating No. 3 Eastern Michigan 2-1 in penalty kicks, Toledo also moved forward in the MAC Tournament.
Stafford said he knows how important penalty kicks are in the tournament and has emphasized their significance.
“We’ve practiced penalty kicks every day, and the girls know they are responsible for practicing them themselves outside of practice,” he said. “The combination of their own time and every day at practice will hopefully be responsible for building their confidence.”
In 2009, the last time Toledo and CMU met in the post-season, penalty kicks gave CMU the win with a 4-2 advantage.
That win, secured by then freshman Bailey Brandon’s penalty kick, put the Chippewas on the path to their first MAC Tournament Championship.
Brandon, now a senior defender, leads the Central Michigan defense alongside senior Katie Slaughter. CMU has allowed just 35 shots on goal in conference play this season.
Junior midfielder Jennifer Gassman said the team has a very positive vibe going into Friday’s game.
“We’re really out to get ‘em,” Gassman said. “We’ve come together, and it’s just working out really nicely for us.”
Stafford said the team has joined together at the right time.
“Hopefully, the feelings from last year with the game against Western (Michigan), coupled together with some other things, will be the ingredients for generating motivation,” Stafford said. “At the end of the day, we have a group of driven women, and we hope that’s a recipe for success.”
Today’s quarterfinal match will take place at 2 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio, the home turf for the No. 1 seeded Miami. The Chippewas have not played on that field since a regular season game in 2010.
The MAC Tournament Championship will be played on Sunday between the winner of the CMU vs. Toledo game and the winner of the Miami vs. Kent State game.
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