Welcome back to MACtion on the Pitch, where we take a look at what happened over the course of the week in women’s soccer.
We have finally arrived at conference play! 66 games to determine who will play for a regular season championship, earn a spot in the MAC tournament, and potentially win the 2023 MAC Tournament championship. Can Buffalo go back-to-back? Can Bowling Green get back on top? Can Akron or Ball State win their first tournament title?
Let’s take a look at the first week of conference games:
Northern Illinois at Western Michigan (Final: 3-0 WMU)
The Huskies and Broncos faced off in Kalamazoo for their MAC opener. Western would strike first with a 15th minute goal from Jen Blitchok, assisted by Jenna Blackburn and Emily Pagett. Exactly 13 minutes later, Pagett would score the second goal of the night, assisted by Heidi Thomasma and Abby Werthman. The score would be 2-0 Broncos after the first 45, with Northern Illinois only putting up two shots to Western’s nine. Just before the 60th minute, Jen Blitchok would score her second of the night to put the Broncos up 3-0. That score would hold as NIU was only able to take one shot in the second half. Bronco goalkeeper Lauren Boafo only needed one save for the shutout in a statement win.
Kent State at Ohio (Final: 1-0 Kent State)
The Flashes traveled to Athens to open up conference play. The Flashes got off to a quick start, with Alisa Arthur scoring just past the 9:00 mark. 1-0 would be the final score in favor of Kent State, as Ohio would be outshot 16-11, and only put up one shot on goal. Flashes goalkeeper Sarah Melén only needed to make one save for the shutout. Bobcat goalkeeper Celeste Sloma made five saves on the day.
Miami at Ball State (Final: 3-1 Ball State)
The Redhawks and Cardinals would face off in their first league contest of 2023. In a bit of back and forth action, Avery Fenchel would score their first goal of conference play, with an assist from Emily Roper in the 12th minute. The Cardinals would go into the break up 1-0. 3:49 into the second half, Kaitlyn Fraser would increase the Ball State advantage to 2-0. Miami would bring one back on a Taylor Hamlett goal in the 56th minute. Ball State’s Annika Klauss would add the third goal to propel Ball State to a 3-1 win at the final whistle. Ball State held the 15-12 shot advantage in a statement win to start conference play.
Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan (Final: 1-0 EMU)
The Eagles would fly north to face the Chippewas. Eastern would hold a 7-2 shot advantage through the first half of the game, but neither side would be able to break through and the score would be 0-0. It would be much of the same through the second half. Central Michigan would concede a penalty, and Kate Robinson would convert from the spot for the Eagles to put them up 1-0. That score would hold, and Eastern Michigan picked a great time for their first win of the season. Emma Holland kept a four-save shutout.
Buffalo at Akron (Final: 2-0 Buffalo)
The Zips would host the Bulls for their MAC opener. Buffalo would dominate on shots 5-0 through the first 15 minutes. In the 16th minute, Katie Krohn would keep her hot start going and score the opening goal, with assists from Arianna Zumpano and Leah Wengender. 9:05 later, Katie Krohn would score once again, with another assist from Leah Wengender to go up 2-0. Through 45 minutes, Buffalo had already put up 12 shots while Akron put up a goose egg. Buffalo really held Akron down, getting 13 shots before Akron even attempted one shot. Akron finally got a shot up in the 62nd minute. Akron put up six shots, but would not overcome the early deficit and Buffalo would win 2-0.
Bowling Green at Toledo (Final: 2-0 Bowling Green)
Nothing better than the Battle of I-75 to start the conference campiagn. It would get off to a quick start as Ellie Pool would find the net thanks in part to a Maya Dean assist less than two minutes into the game. The Falcons would hold that 1-0 advantage going into the halftime break with a 6-2 shot advantage. Falcon goalkeeper Madison Vukas saved two shots, with the Rocket goalkeeper Brielle Young also saving two shots. Lili Berg would control the net in the second half for the Falcons, adding another game to the two goalkeeper game plan. Toledo would concede a penalty in the 63rd minute, and Brynn Gardner would convert for her first of the night. BG would go up 2-0, and that score would hold. Lili Berg and Madison Vukas would combine for the three-save shutout.
Central Michigan at Miami (Final: 2-1 Central Michigan)
Central Michigan would travel to Oxford to take on the RedHawks. Both teams would not be able to find the net in the first half, even despite Central Michigan would hold a 6-2 shot advantage. Less than four minutes into the second half, CMU’s Jenna Little would find the back of the net, assisted by Cece Mernatti, to go up 1-0. The 51st minute saw Jenna Little finding the net again to put the Chippewas up 2-0. This time, she was assisted by Lauren Walker. Miami would pull one back in the 80th minute, with a goal from Taylor Hamlett (her second consecutive game with a goal) to make the score 2-1 still in favor of CMU. Central Michigan would hold on, and take a big three points back home to Mt. Pleasant.
Western Michigan at Bowling Green (Final: 0-0 Draw)
Bowling Green would welcome the Broncos for their senior day. We’d like to give our congratulations to Lili Berg, Lacee Bethea, Rylee Clark, Katie Cox, Lexi Czerwien, Maya Dean, Emilie Gardner, Makenzie Ortman, Ellie Pool, and Emma Richardson! This game was very back and forth, with no team able to break through, and the halftime score would be 0-0. The second half would be much of the same, with neither team able to break the scoring open. Both teams would walk away with the 0-0 draw, and one point for the standings.
Ohio at Buffalo (Final: 1-0 Ohio)
The Bulls would host the Bobcats for their MAC home opener. The Bulls would have a 4-3 shot advantage through 28 minutes but at the 28:06 mark, Ohio would strike first. Shae Robertson would be assisted by Rayann Pruss, and the Bobcats would take their 1-0 lead into the halftime break. Not much offense would come for Buffalo, but they would get a chance in the last 49 seconds of the game. Ohio would concede a penalty, and Buffalo’s leading goal scorer Katie Krohn would step up to salvage a draw. Instead, Ohio’s Celeste Sloma would make a crucial save to keep the game in Ohio’s favor. Ohio would head back to Athens with three points. Sloma would have a seven-save shutout on the day.
Ball State at Eastern Michigan (Final: 1-1 Draw)
In a battle of birds, the Cardinals would face the Eagles in Ypsilanti. Ball State held a 3-1 shot advantage early. The Cardinals would concede a penalty in the 20th minute. Bethany Moser would stop the attempt from Eastern’s Kate Robinson, but Lily Spotak would score off the saved penalty to put the Eagles up 1-0, and that score would hold at half. Credit Kate Robinson with the assist. Ball State only needed 2:21 to equalize, as Lexi Fraley would score off an assist by Maya Turner. The score would remain 1-1 after the final whistle, and both teams would walk away with a point in the standings.
Akron at Kent State (Final: 2-1 Kent State)
Here we have another rivalry in the first week of MACtion. Akron would make the short drive to Kent State. Akron would hold a 5-3 shot advantage, but Kent State would hold strong for the 0-0 halftime score. In the 63rd minute, Akron’s Emma King would find the back of the net with an assist from Emma Hadley. The Zips would go up 1-0. With 7:46 left, Kent State would equalize as Alisa Arthur would score in her second consecutive game to equalize the game 1-1. It looked like it would head for a draw, but Kent State’s Kelsey Salopek would grab the lead with 2:10 left on an stunner from distance, snatching a Flashes win away from their rivals in the waning moments.
Toledo at Northern Illinois (Final: 1-1 Draw)
Northern Illinois would welcome Toledo to DeKalb. It was back and forth to start the game. Toledo would take the first lead just before the 30th minute on a goal from Mia Leonetti. The Rockets would lead 1-0 at half time. After what felt like a long back and forth half, the Huskies would equalize with 2:09 to go. Amara Thompkins would score off of a Madison Frazer assist. The 1-1 score would hold and both teams would walk away with a draw, and one point in the standings.
MAC Players of the Week
It’s a sweep for the Kent State Golden Flashes this week.
Offensive Player of the Week
Alisa Arthur, Junior midfielder, Kent State
The Miamisburg, Ohio native scored in consecutive games to lead Kent State to a 2-0 start in MAC play. She had seven shots on goal this week, and leads the team in points and goals.
Defensive Player of the Week
Kelsey Salopek, Sophomore defender, Kent State
The Munhall, Pennsylvania native played 171 minutes in defense this week. She helped the Flashes keep their shutout over Ohio, but her week was ultimately highlighted by a goal of the year candidate against the Zips to earn a huge rivalry win.
Goal of the Week
Our goal of the week goes to Kent State’s Kelsey Salopek. As soon as she scored this stunner, we knew there wasn’t any question that it was goal of the week. (Credit: Kent State Soccer/X)
Moments of the Week
Our first moment of the week goes to Ohio goalkeeper Celeste Sloma. Everything about this sequence was clutch to seal a huge win for the Bobcats. (Credit: Ohio Soccer/X)
Our second, and last moment of the week goes to Bowling Green defender Isabelle Gilmore. We want to extend our congratulations to her as she was named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week. She is the first MAC player selected to the CSN Team of the Week this season. (Credit: BGSU Women’s Soccer/X)
Team Conf. Overall
Kent State 2-0-0 5-2-2
WMU 1-0-1 5-3-1
BGSU 1-0-1 3-4-1
Ball State 1-0-1 3-5-1
EMU 1-0-1 1-4-5
Buffalo 1-1-0 4-2-3
CMU 1-1-0 2-2-3
Ohio 1-1-0 3-4-2
Toledo 0-1-1 3-4-2
NIU 0-1-1 2-4-3
Miami 0-2-0 3-6-1
Akron 0-2-0 2-6-0
After an exciting first week of MACtion, here’s the schedule for the next week:
Thursday, September 28th (All Times ET)
Ohio at Northern Illinois, 2:00 PM
Toledo at Ball State, 4:00 PM
Miami at Buffalo, 6:00 PM
Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 7:00 PM
Eastern Michigan at Kent State, 7:00 PM
Akron at Bowling Green, 7:00 PM
Sunday, October 1st (All games at 1:00 PM ET)
Northern Illinois at Akron
Buffalo at Eastern Michigan
Central Michigan at Toledo
Ball State at Western Michigan
Kent State at Miami
Bowling Green at Ohio