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2023 MACtion on the Pitch: Semifinals

The Bobcats and Golden Flashes pick up massive wins to book their places in the final.

Ohio celebrates their 2-1 semifinal win over Bowling Green
Ashley Huss/WMU Athletics

Welcome back to MACtion on the Pitch! The MAC women’s soccer semifinals took place on Thursday afternoon. Four teams played in Kalamazoo, with two final spots up for grabs. Here’s what happened:

Ohio vs Bowling Green (Final: 2-1 Ohio)

The Bobcats took on the Falcons in the first semifinal of the day.

Bowling Green got their first shot on goal within the first 30 seconds, but Bobcat keeper Celeste Sloma made the save, the first of three she made in the first 30 minutes of the contest against an aggressive BGSU side. The Falcons would get through eventually, as Christine Erdman would score a goal off assists from Lacee Bethea and Emma Stransky to put BGSU up 1-0 with 8:18 remaining in the first half. The score would hold at the half, with the Falcons holding the shot advantage 9-3. Ohio only needed 50 seconds in the second half to get on the board, with Rayann Pruss netting the equalizer on an assist from Ella Deevers. In a stunning shift of momentum, Ohio would take the lead on a Scout Murray goal in the 55th minute. BGSU would try hard to equalize it, but when the final whistle sounded, Ohio triumphed with a 2-1 margin. For the Bobcats, they’ve knocked out two of the top three teams in the MAC in back-to-back games, continuing a Cinderella run which they earned by playing their way into the tourney on Decision Day. They move on to the championship game for the first time since 2002. It’s their chance to capture their first tournament championship in program history.

Bowling Green ends up being eliminated in the semifinals for the second year in a row.

Kent State vs Western Michigan (Final: 2-1 Kent State)

Kent State took on the regular season champion Western Michigan in the second semifinal.

After some back-and-forth action, Kent State would strike first on Alisa Arthur’s goal off a Mary Kate Lape assist to go up 1-0 early. Kent State would double up on their stunning, early lead in the 29th minute when Josie Morgan threaded the ball towards Callie Cunningham, whose shot found the back of the net. The Broncos, who were hosting team based on their regular season championship, found themselves down 2-0 at the half, and couldn’t break through until late in the contest. With 5:09 to go, Jenna Blackburn pulled one back for the Broncos with an assist from Mira Pierre-Webster, but it ultimately failed to rally the troops, and their season would end at home by a final margin of 2-1.

Kent State makes it back to the final for the first time since 2021, looking for their first title since 2016.

Western Michigan’s Jenna Blackburn (#3) plays a ball in the Broncos’ 2-1 loss to Kent State in the MAC semifinal
Ashley Huss/WMU Athletics

Goal of the Round

The goal of the round goes to Ohio’s Scout Murray. This completed the Bobcats’ comeback and downed the Falcons. (Credit: Ohio Soccer/X)

All-MAC Teams

The MAC announced their all-conference teams on 10/31. We extend our congratulations to everyone listed here!

First Team

  • Forward: Lexi Fraley, Ball State
  • Forward: Avery Fenchel, Ball State
  • Forward: Brynn Gardner, Bowling Green
  • Forward: Jen Blitchok, Western Michigan
  • Midfielder: Katie Krohn, Buffalo
  • Midfielder: Alisa Arthur, Kent State
  • Midfielder: Abby Werthman, Western Michigan
  • Defender: Isabelle Gilmore, Bowling Green
  • Defender: Kelsey Salopek, Kent State
  • Defender: Mira Pierre-Webster, Western Michigan
  • Goalkeeper: Lauren Boafo, Western Michigan

Second Team

  • Forward: Arianna Zumpano, Buffalo
  • Forward: Shae Robertson, Ohio
  • Forward: Jenna Blackburn, Western Michigan
  • Midfielder: Delaney Caldwell, Ball State
  • Midfielder: Leah Wengender, Buffalo
  • Midfielder: Camber Hayes, Miami
  • Defender: Lea Gruennagel, Northern Illinois
  • Defender: Aubrey Robertson, Northern Illinois
  • Defender: Quintin Tostevin, Ohio
  • Defender: Brielle Gomez, Western Michigan
  • Goalkeeper: Celeste Sloma, Ohio

All-Freshman Team

  • Audrey Goodyear, Ball State
  • Emma Stransky, Bowling Green
  • Taylor Green, Bowling Green
  • Maya Galko, Buffalo
  • Kate Robinson, Eastern Michigan
  • Olivia Sipsock, Eastern Michigan
  • Alanna Raimondo, Kent State
  • Josie Morgan, Kent State
  • Dominique Popa, Miami
  • Morhea Hoefen, Miami
  • Tyra King, Northern Illinois
  • Jaimason Brooker, Ohio

Specialty Awards

The MAC also announced their specialty awards on October 31st. Congratulations to the following individuals:

Coach of the Year

Lewis Robinson, Western Michigan

Robinson, in his second year as head coach, took the Broncos to the regular season championship. Finishing 8-0-3, Western Michigan became the first team to go undefeated in MAC play since the 2014 Buffalo Bulls.

Offensive Player of the Year

Lexi Fraley, Ball State

The junior forward was the first Cardinal to be named offensive player of the year in program history. She tallied 10 goals on the year, nine against conference opponents.

Defensive Player of the Year

Mira Pierre-Webster, Western Michigan

The Whitby, Ontario native’s name wasn’t talked about much this year. She tallied one assist, but was a crucial part of the Bronco back line that only allowed 33 shots on goal in conference play. The Bronco defense only allowed six goals in conference play, as well.

Goalkeeper of the Year

Lauren Boafo, Western Michigan

Boafo had a breakout season in the MAC. A 0.55 goals against average, 81.8 percent save percentage, and six shutouts helped her top the MAC goalkeeper stat sheet.

Freshman of the Year

Kate Robinson, Eastern Michigan

Robinson tallied 13 points on the year. With three goals, she led the MAC with seven assists. She became the first Eagle with seven-plus assists in a season since 2013, and the first EMU freshman in 16 years to record seven assists.

Upcoming Schedule

This is it. Ohio vs Kent State. One game to decide the tournament champion, and who gets the MAC’s NCAA tournament bid.

Will we have a first time champion? Will Kent State add another trophy? We’ll find out on Sunday, November 5th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. The game is set to be aired exclusively on ESPN+ (a valid cable subscription is required.)