It’s my sincere belief that there’s just as much drama, inspiration, and fun in the so-called non-revenue sports (though I prefer to call them ‘Olympic sports’). I’ve brought that to the Buffalo readers at Bull Run for the past few years, and I’m grateful to Alan for creating space here at Hustle Belt to talk about the whole conference.
That said, the highlight any fall in the MAC’s non-football offering has to be Akron Men’s Soccer. The 2010 National Champions, Akron has been a power, not just in the MAC, but nationally, long enough that they’re not going away anytime soon.
Unfortunately the Zips, who came into this weekend ranked #1 in the nation, suffered a pair of losses on the weekend to #23 San Diego State and #4 UCLA. The first came on only an Aztecs penalty kick in the second half, as Akron limited SDSU to a pair of shots on goal but couldn’t convert on a pair of chances midway through the second half.
Last night’s match was considerably more unfortunate, a jarring 6-1 loss to the Bruins, punctuated by three UCLA goals in a 32-second stretch of the second half. Adam Najem scored the lone Akron goal of the weekend on a penalty kick, but everything went wrong for a team that is far too talented to lose 6-1 to anyone with any regularity.
Elsewhere in the MAC, Buffalo has started the season on a four-game shutout streak, led by reigning MAC Player of the Year Russell Cicerone’s seven goals. Western Michigan is also 4-0-0 and receiving votes in the NSCAA Poll, and Bowling Green remains undefeated after only playing Marshall this weekend.
While Michigan State is not one of the Big Ten’s seven programs receiving votes in the NSCAA Poll, their defeat at the hands of Central Michigan was perhaps the highlight of the MAC Women’s Soccer Sunday that saw the conference go 7-1.
Alexis Pelafas is already up to seven goals for the Chips, and was the most dangerous player on the pitch, leading everyone with seven shots and three on goal despite entering as a substitute and playing only sixty minutes. Central Michigan is now 5-0-0 on the season with a pair of wins over Power Five conference schools.
In other matches, Miami played tough with the University of Miami, falling 1-0 to the country’s highest-scoring team, while Ball State had a pair of somewhat surprising losses to Cal State-Northridge and Loyola Marymount. Kent offensive dynamo Jenna Hellstrom scored a pair of goals in the Golden Flashes’ 2-1 win over in-state opponent Dayton.
Northern Illinois has the jump on the conference early, out to a 5-1 start while only two other teams - Bowling Green and Toledo - have winning records. The Huskies have three players averaging more than two kills a set and four hitting above .200. Meg Wolowicz already has 25 blocks, 8 solo, on the year.
A mixed bag early for field hockey, where reigning MAC champions Kent State (4-1) and Ball State (3-1) are out to a hot start while only Longwood also has a winning record. The conference as a group went 0-4 this past Sunday.
Kent State in particular is impressive, as they’ve already avenged last year’s 5-1 loss to Michigan State with a 3-1 win in 2016 and come home today from a 2-1 trip to California featuring wins over California and Pacific. 2015 Second Team All-MAC honoree Alison Harmatz leads the Flashes with four goals.
Ball State’s 3-1 record comes entirely on the road, as the Cardinals won’t in fact play a game in Muncie for another month.
There’s rarely much to learn from the opening weekend of Cross Country, as most programs run a freshman-heavy group. Highlights this weekend saw a few MAC clashes as Toledo topped Bowling Green in both the Men’s and Women’s races, while the Eastern Michigan Women came just short of sweeping Western in a meet hosted by the Broncos.