Dating back to 2013, Buffalo and Ball State have now gone to overtime in four consecutive meetings after today's Cardinal win in Muncie. Even before Chelsy Swackhamer scored in the 94th minute, this was a much different showing than Buffalo's pair of overtime wins last year.
The Cardinals dominated beginning to end, outshooting Buffalo 25-3 before Swackhamer headed a corner kick off the crossbar and converted her own rebound. Laura Dougall, bidding for the UB career shutout record, made ten saves to tie her career high, which was set earlier this season at West Virginia.
Other than Dougall, there's little to say for UB in this one, who did well to hang on against a Ball State team that was already tops in the MAC in addition to extra motivation from last year's pair of late losses. Julia Benati had two shots and Nicole Gerritz one. Bri Shingary earned a yellow card early and stayed clean for the next 70 minutes. Given the quality of Ball State's team right now, a road result at all would have been a positive showing, and the Cardinals brought everything they had today.
Looking ahead to the MAC Tournament, Ball State is not an unbeatable juggernaut. Western Michigan topped them in overtime last weekend, and UB managed the Broncos in a 1-1 tie earlier this year. Given UB's tough weekend, I'm perfectly fine with 1-1-0. It's not like anyone below UB has beaten Ball State, anyway.
Buffalo drops to 10-6-2 on the season and 6-3-1 in the MAC with a single regular season game to play. Thanks to their own win over Miami to start the weekend and Toledo's surprising 2-1 victory over Kent State today, UB can clinch the #3 seed and the (meaningless) MAC East title with a win over Akron this Thursday. I don't believe the Bulls can catch Western Michigan for #2, especially given WMU's tiebreaker advantage.
Still, the #3 seed wouldn't be a bad draw, given that two days ago the Bulls were in a four-way battle for two home quarterfinal spots. It'd also mean UB wouldn't face Ball State until a theoretical MAC Championship matchup. Right now, I'd bet the most likely quarterfinal opponent is Central Michigan, but we'll investigate more in depth in a post later this week.