Back in August, I was skeptical of Coach Burke's decision to start freshman Brianna Shingary at fullback in the preseason scrimmage against Cleveland State, and didn't include the rookie from Medina, OH in my preseason starting lineup predictions. Today, she blasted a goal from 25 yards out in the 107th minute to give UB a more-than-important road win over fellow conference front-runner Miami.
Like Julia Benati last year, Shingary has stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman and rarely seen the bench, frequently taking free and corner kicks and playing aggressive, fearless defense to go with her big leg. Her goal today culminated a late surge from Buffalo that swung the tide in a defensive battle against the RedHawks, who were also 5-2-1 coming into today's match.
Miami generally had the run of the play in the first half, though since we only had livestats to go on, I'm not sure how dangerous they were. Laura Dougall made three saves on six shots in that opening stanza, and UB was able to play more evenly going forward, even without Carissima Cutrona, who was subbed out in the 11th minute and didn't return until the second overtime.
Miami's only shot on goal after halftime came in the 88th minute as both teams found offensive chances late. The RedHawks, though, did not force Dougall into another save in the final hour.
UB managed no better, as the teams combined for just one shot in the first overtime after only three on goal total in the second half. With only play by play data, it's hard to guess, but a pair of yellow cards assessed to senior centerback Jackie Hall and Coach Burke in the 96th minute may have spurred the Bulls, who roared out of the final break with Cutrona back on the field and earned three shots and a corner kick in the first six minutes before Shingary's strike.
The implications of this win are massive for the Bulls, who would have faced falling behind Kent State with a tie or loss. Depending on the result of Kent-Central Michigan this evening, the Chippewas could head into their final two games unable to catch the Bulls, and while Miami and the Golden Flashes could still both pass the Bulls and knock them out of a home quarterfinal game, Buffalo is on much solider ground.
Shingary's goal was the first of her career and was unassisted. The shutout was the 21st of Laura Dougall's career, bringing her into a tie with Jaime Adams for the most all-time at UB.
Sunday presents just as critical an opportunity, and perhaps an even bigger challenge, for the Bulls, as they travel to MAC-leading Ball State, home of the conference's most physical and shot-limiting defense, for a 2:00 game.