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Buffalo Women's Soccer outworks Akron in 3-1 win, claims MAC East crown and #3 seed in MAC tournament

UB Athletics

Before UB and Akron even kicked off in today's MAC regular season finale, Ball State had defeated Miami 1-0, guaranteeing the Bulls a top-four finish and home quarterfinal this Sunday by virtue of UB's shutout wins over Miami, Central Michigan, and Kent State. The only questions in play were whether the Bulls stay ahead of Kent State for the third seed and who would shake out of that trio to come to Buffalo on Sunday.

UB did what was required with a 3-1 win, the winning goal coming on a pretty header from Andrea Niper. Kassidy Kidd had the opener and assisted with Bri Shingary on the second, while Julia Benati scored a late penalty to reestablish Buffalo's two-goal advantage.

The Bulls took an early lead and dominated in a strong wind, outshooting Akron 8-1 in the first half to go along with four corners. Kidd's goal came on a feed from Moira Petrie that put the senior one-on-one with the goalie until she finished to the far post.

Working into the wind in the second half, Buffalo was still able to outwork the Zips while spending marginally more time in their own end. Jackie Hall was injured on a corner kick, but returned after a few minutes to draw a foul that became Brianna Shingary's cross to Niper's head and an insurance goal for the Bulls. Within four minutes of Akron halving UB's lead on an absolute rocket and Sean Burke subbing Cassie Betancourt in net (I'm not sure which came first), Benati drew a whistle in the box and iced her penalty.

The Bulls outshot Akron by a three-to-one margin on the day while enjoying long stretches of possession. The only blemish was Akron's goal, but fans will be more glad to see UB score a pair of goals into the wind than to win 1-0. Kidd and Benati's goals were the sixth of the season for both, while Niper's was her second. Kidd was also credited with the hockey assist on Niper's goal and now has a team-leading 18 points on the season. Betancourt's relief appearance was her first of her career.

Around the MAC, in addition to Ball State's 1-0 win over Miami earlier in the afternoon, Toledo and Central Michigan made (for our purposes) any other results moot, as the Rockets won 2-0, locking the Chippewas into the sixth seed and a trip to Buffalo Sunday for the MAC Tournament quarterfinal match.

Kent State, needing a win or a tie and a Central Michigan win to leap Miami, topped Ohio 1-0 and will take the four seed. At the bottom of the conference, every team still had a chance to claim a tournament seed, but Toledo's win narrowed the scope to five teams fighting for a single spot. Northern Illinois' was poised for a surprising win over Western Michigan to claim the eighth seed, but allowed an equalizer just as UB's game finished.

The MAC Tournament seeding, with quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon:

#1 Ball State will host either #8 NIU or #8 Ohio
#2 Western Michigan hosts #7 Toledo
#3 Buffalo hosts #6 Central Michigan
#4 Kent State hosts #5 Miami

Bulls fans should be very happy with this, for a number of reasons:

  • Ball State, Miami, and Kent State are all on the other side and wouldn't face UB until a potential championship matchup
  • Of the three possible Bulls opponents coming into the day, they draw CMU, who they've already beaten at home.
  • The other matchup on their side of the bracket features a red-hot Toledo who UB handled at home, or a suddenly slumping Western Michigan, who UB handled better than the other top seeds, but for a goalie misplay.
We don't yet know the time of Buffalo-Central Michigan on Sunday, but assume it will be in the afternoon.