BUFFALO, NY – Jackie Hall's goal in the 82nd minute and yet another superb defensive performance earned the State University of New York, Buffalo women's soccer the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament after downing sixth-seeded Western Michigan 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at UB Stadium.
With the win, the Bulls earn the MAC's automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Bulls extended their program record unbeaten streak to 14 matches and close out the season with an 11-0-1 record on UB Stadium turf.
The biggest goal in UB women's soccer history was started by senior defender Sophie Therien, who put a perfect free kick volley into the box where Katie Roberts had her shot attempt saved but the rebound bounced out to Hall who buried her fourth goal of the season. Hall scored in her second straight MAC Tournament match and now has three game-winning goals on the year.
After a back-and-forth first half that saw Western Michigan outshoot the Bulls 6-2, UB came out of the locker room with more intensity and determination than the opening 45 minutes.
The Bulls controlled most of the play to start the second half before Western Michigan had their best chance of the half off the head of Kendall Juhnkie. Juhnkie took a cross and headed her shot towards the UB net but Laura Dougall stood tall making the save on the dangerous attempt.
Just over a minute later, Emma Kahn of Western Michigan was given a yellow card after a dangerous tackle on Kassidy Kidd. On the ensuing free kick, Therien placed a great ball into the box where Hall cleaned up the loose ball and sent the stadium into a frenzy.
The final 10 minutes of the match were dominated by the UB defense as they packed it in and didn't allow the Broncos to have another shot the rest of the way.
The backbone of the UB squad all season long has been their defense and on Sunday they proved to be one of the best in the country in the Bulls MAC Championship victory. The backline of Hall, Therien, Kristin Markiewicz and Angel Hart helped prevent the Western Michigan attack from generating any dangerous chances as they held the Broncos to three shots on goal for the contest. UB has now held their opponents to five shots or less in 16 of 21 matches, including seven straight.
For the match, UB held the 14-9 edge in shots while Western Michigan had the 2-1 lead in corner kicks. Julia Benati and Roberts led the Bulls with three shots apiece.
Dougall's historic freshman campaign continued on Sunday afternoon as she made three saves to earn her program record 16th victory of the season. Dougall also finished off her program record 13th clean sheet of the season.
Following the victory, Hall, Megan Giesen, Courtney Mann and Andrea Niper were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team. Hall scored the game-winner on Sunday while Niper had the overtime winner on Friday over Ball State.
Buffalo now waits to find out where they will head for the NCAA College Cup, which will be announced on Monday at 4:30 pm.
2014 Women's Soccer All-Tournament Team
Leah Mattingly, Ball State
Elaina Musleh, Ball State
Amy Annala, Northern Illinois
Gwen Sabo, Northern Illinois
Emma Kahn, Western Michigan
Nicole Hatcliffe, Western Michigan
Lindsey Lee, Western Michigan
Jackie Hall, Buffalo
Megan Giesen, Buffalo
Courtney Mann, Buffalo
Andrea Niper, Buffalo