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2023 MACtion on the Pitch: Week 1

Headlined by a Power Five win, women’s soccer is off and running for the MAC in 2023.

Midfielder Sarah Woods winning the ball in a stunning 2-1 victory for Buffalo over Ohio State
Kirk Irwin, Ohio State Athletics

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup may be over, but Mid-American Conference women’s soccer has just begun.

Welcome to MACtion on the Pitch, where we take a look at what happened over the course of the week in women’s soccer. You will see at the end of each team’s weekly recap, there are their next games and where you’ll be able to watch them if streams are available.

With it just having been week one of competition, let’s take a look at what went down:

Akron (1-1-0)

8/18 - at Cleveland State (W)
8/20 - at Youngstown State (L)

Akron started the year at Cleveland State. The lady Zips went up 1-0 in the 20th minute with junior Morgan Pentz’s first goal of the year. The Vikings drew level in the 74th minute, but the Zips broke the tie again in the 76th with junior Ella Hadley putting the ball in the net. Morgan Pentz would find the net again in the 84th to ice the match at 3-1.

The Youngstown State game went differently, as the Penguins went up 1-0 in the 6th minute. The Zips were unable to put the ball in the net for the rest of the game, and would fall to the Penguins.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 vs Robert Morris (ESPN+)

Ball State (1-1-0)

8/17 - vs. Mercyhurst (W)
8/20 - at Notre Dame (L)

The Cardinals took on D-II Mercyhurst to start the year. This game was headlined by senior Avery Fenchel’s hat trick that took only 31 minutes and 19 seconds. The Cardinals led 3-0 at half. In the 50th minute, sophomore Emily Roper scored to make it 4-0. The 72nd minute saw the fifth and final goal as senior Ryann Locante put the ball in the back of the net. Mercyhurst ended up pulling one back less than a minute later, but that was consolation in a 5-1 victory in Muncie.

The Cardinals traveled to South Bend and only put up one shot on goal all game, compare that to 12 on goal by the Irish, and the final score was 3-0 in favor of Notre Dame.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 at Texas Tech (ESPN+)

Bowling Green (0-1-0)

8/20 - at Michigan State (L)

The four-season championship streak for the Falcons came to an end in 2022. Bowling Green looked to start on the right note in East Lansing. The Spartans scored two goals in 40 seconds in the 17th minute to go up 2-0. The Spartans would add on in the 58th minute to make it 3-0. The Falcons scored in the 81st minute with freshman Lizzie Bultynck scoring her first collegiate goal to make the final score 3-1 in favor of Sparty.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 at Cincinnati (ESPN+)
8/27 vs Loyola Chicago (ESPN+/BCSN)

Buffalo (1-1-0)

8/17 - vs. Pittsburgh (L)
8/20 - at Ohio State (W)

Buffalo hosted the Pittsburgh Panthers to start the year in a rematch of the 2022 NCAA Tournament 1st round game. Looking for revenge, Buffalo kept the match scoreless until the Panthers scored two goals in a little over four minutes to go up 2-0 in the 70th minute. Sophomore midfielder Katie Krohn brought the Bulls back down one in the 86th minute, but it wasn’t enough to overcome that Pitt scoring stretch, and Buffalo would fall 2-1.

The following Sunday, the Bulls traveled to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. Ohio State went up 1-0 in the 26th minute. However, fifth-year senior Leah Wengender said “NOT SO FAST”, and scored 1 minute and 10 seconds later to draw even. Both teams went back and forth until the 84th minute when junior Arianna Zumpano scored to put the Bulls up 2-1. That would ultimately be enough as the Bulls would fly the flag as we say. After seeing the results of these past matches, it’s easy to see why the Bulls were picked to repeat as MAC champions.

Upcoming matches:
Thursday 8/24 at Colgate (ESPN+)

Central Michigan (0-0-1)

8/17 - at Detroit Mercy (D)

Central Michigan traveled to Detroit to face the Titans. Detroit Mercy went up 2-0 at half. Less than 15 minutes into the second half, redshirt junior Elizabeth Chlystun scored to make it 2-1. Graduate student Claudia Muessig brought the Chips back level at 2-2 with seven minutes to go. Detroit Mercy seemed to steal the match at the death with two minutes remaining to go up 3-2. It seemed over, right? Wrong, because Muessig would be the hero to level it once again at 3-3 with 11 seconds remaining. The match would finish 3-3, capping off an incredible comeback from the Chippewas.

Upcoming matches:
8/27 vs Wright State (Stream)

Eastern Michigan (0-1-1)

8/17 - vs. St. Bonaventure (D)
8/20 - at Oakland (L)

The Eagles welcomed the Bonnies to Scicluna Field to open the 2023 season. The Eagles allowed a goal in the 13th minute to go down 1-0 at half. In the 63rd minute, freshman Kate Robinson leveled the score with her first collegiate goal. The Eagles went up 2-1 in the 71st minute thanks to junior Meagan Lukowski. The Eagles allowed a goal in the 77th minute that made the final score 2-2 after full time.

The Eagles then traveled to Rochester, Michigan to take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. This was a case of doing many things right, but unable to put the ball in the goal. Oakland went up 1-0 early in the fifth minute, and that score would hold firm.

Upcoming matches:
8/25 at Dartmouth (ESPN+)
8/27 at Northeastern (FloFC)

Kent State (1-0-1)

8/17 - at Oakland (W)
8/20 - vs. Colgate (D)

Kent State opened their season at Oakland. The Flashes went up 1-0 on freshman Josie Morgan’s first collegiate goal, and that score would hold at halftime. In the 53rd minute, junior Alisa Arthur would make the score 2-0. Oakland would add a goal in the 63rd minute, but the margin was enough for Kent State to notch win number one of 2023, 2-1.

The Flashes opened their home schedule against Colgate. No team would break the ice until the 34th minute when Colgate put one in the back of the net. Flash forward (See what I did there?) to the 72nd minute. Did you think Josie Morgan was done? Think again. Assisted by Alisa Arthur, Morgan drew the Flashes level and the score would hold at 1-1.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 vs Pittsburgh (Stream)
8/27 at Cleveland State (ESPN+)

Miami (0-1-1)

8/17 - at Ohio State (L)
8/20 - vs. Indiana State (D)

Junior Taylor Hamlett attempts to get the goal in a 0-0 draw with Indiana State
Will Corey, Miami Athletics

The RedHawks opened the season in Columbus. The offense was definitely mute for the RedHawks compared to the Buckeyes. Miami accumulated one shot on goal, while the Buckeyes had 12. Freshman Dominique Popa made her collegiate debut in a tough matchup and still came up with 9 saves. Ohio State ultimately prevailed 3-0.

Miami opened Bobby Kramig Field the following Sunday, hoping the offense would come alive. This matchup turned out to be a very shot heavy game for Miami, accumulating 17 shots, with four on goal. No team could break the ice, and the game finished 0-0. Sophomore Mallory Thomas notched her first career save in the second half after being subbed on.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 at Northern Kentucky
8/27 vs UIC

Northern Illinois (1-1-0)

8/17 - at Western Illinois (W)
8/20 - at Valparaiso (L)

NIU opened their season in Macomb. The first half saw no goals from either side. In the 49th minute, sophomore Amber Best opened the scoring, assisted by junior Lea Gruennagel. In the 61st minute, freshman Isabel Struble notched her first collegiate goal with an assist from Gruennagel. Freshman Sarah Roy notched her first goal in the 71st minute to ice the game at 3-0.

The following Sunday saw the Huskies travel to Valparaiso. This matchup saw NIU put 6 shots on goal, and 5 shots on goal for Valparaiso. In the end, a 61st minute Valparaiso goal doomed the Huskies. NIU starts off the campaign at 1-1.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 vs Eastern Illinois (Stream)
8/27 vs Oakland (Stream)

Ohio (1-0-0)

8/17 - vs. Duquesne (W)

The Bobcats opened Chessa Field in style for 2023. Ohio opened up the scoring in the 29th minute with senior Izzi Boyd scoring. Sophomore Ella Deevers added the second goal in the 51st minute. Ohio rounded out the dominating victory with a 3rd goal by sophomore Scout Murray in the 60th minute. That would be all the scoring as Ohio won 3-0. Sophomore keeper Celeste Sloma played all 90 minutes in goal, and maintained her first shutout of the season.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 vs Cleveland State (Stream)
8/27 at Navy (ESPN+)

Toledo (0-0-1)

8/17 - at Illinois-Chicago (D)

Redshirt Senior Madison Medalle in Toledo’s exhibition against the IUPUI Jaguars
Bree Bee, Toledo Athletics

Year one for head coach Mark Batman hopes to bring the Toledo Rockets back to the days of 2017 and lifting that championship trophy once again. They opened their campaign at Illinois-Chicago. The Rockets fell behind in the 13th minute, but climbed back level with a goal from redshirt senior Madison Medalle in the 23rd minute. 1-1 would be the score at half. The Flames would break through again in the 79th minute to go up 2-1. The Rockets would be level again in the 86th minute with a goal from who else? That’s right, Madison Medalle again. The game would end in a 2-2 draw.

Upcoming matches:
8/24 vs Loyola Chicago (ESPN3/BCSN)
8/27 vs Northwestern (ESPN3/BCSN)

Western Michigan (2-0-0)

8/17 - at Northern Kentucky (W)
8/20 - at Eastern Kentucky (W)

Year two of head coach Lewis Robinson’s tenure in Kalamazoo is off to a great start. The Broncos opened the year with a “tour” of Kentucky to put it loosely. Their first stop was Highland Heights, to take on the Norse. Scoring was at a premium for both teams but grad student, and Indiana transfer, Jen Blitchok scored the winner in the 85th minute. Western would open the season at 1-0.

The Broncos traveled south to Richmond to take on the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky. Scoring was less of a premium than at Northern Kentucky. Sophomore Drew Martin would score the opener in the 34th minute. The score would hold at 1-0 through halftime. There wouldn’t be another goal until the 86th minute. Guess who? It’s Jen Blitchok again. She would essentially ice the match before EKU would bring one back, ultimately making the final score 2-1.

Upcoming matches:
8/27 vs Butler

In Case You Missed It

Here was the preseason coaches poll for the 2023 campaign:
1. Buffalo
2. Western Michigan
3. Ball State
4. Bowling Green
5. Miami
6. Kent State
7. Ohio
8. Northern Illinois
9. Eastern Michigan
10. Central Michigan
11. Toledo
12. Akron

Tournament Champion: Buffalo

MAC Players of the Week

Every week, the conference awards an offensive and defensive player of the week award.

There were three very deserving players in a week of incredible performances, and many congratulations are in order to the following players:

Offensive Player of the Week

Jen Blitchok, Graduate Forward, Western Michigan

It comes as no surprise that Blitchok was a contender for offensive player of the week. With two game winning goals in her first two games for Western Michigan, she proved to be huge for the Broncos as they went 2-0 to start the year.

Co-Defensive Player of the Week

Emily Lazenby, Fifth-year Defender, Buffalo
Lazenby notches co-defensive player of the week after great performances against two power 5 opponents in Pittsburgh and Ohio State, helping Buffalo down the Buckeyes in Columbus.

Maia Soulis, Sophomore Defender, Ohio
Soulis was crucial for the Bobcats back line in their shutout of Duquesne. Ohio only allowed two shots on goal.

This is the first weekly recap of the 2023 MAC women’s soccer season. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next weekly recap.