Toledo Faces Eastern Michigan in MAC Tourney

by Brian DeBenedictis
October 26, 2012

YPSILANTI, MI - Toledo (7-11-1, 5-5-1 MAC) opens the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 28 with a quarterfinal matchup at Eastern Michigan (11-6-1, 8-3-0 MAC). The opening whistle from Scicluna Field is slated for 1:00 p.m.

UT and EMU have met only once in the post-season tourney, with the Midnight Blue & Gold claiming a 1-0 victory on Nov. 9, 2008 in the championship match at Scott Park.

The defending MAC tourney champion Rockets are seeded No. 6 in this fall’s post-season event and enter Sunday’s action on the heels of a 2-1 setback vs. Northern Illinois on Thursday. Sophomore Meghan Topolewski accounted for Toledo’s goal in yesterday’s regular-season finale, finding the back of the net for the first time in her collegiate career. Unfortunately for Topolewski and the Midnight Blue & Gold, they were unable to hold onto the lead and yielded a pair of second-half tallies to suffer its first loss in the series since 2003.

The top-four seeds will each host a quarterfinal match, with the four survivors of Sunday’s contests converging upon the home of the highest remaining seed for the semifinal and championship rounds. The semifinals will be held on Friday, Nov. 2, with the championship match scheduled for two days later. The winner of the 16th-annual MAC Tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

This weekend’s other quarterfinal action includes No. 1 seed Miami taking on No. 8 seed Ohio, No. 2 seed Central Michigan hosting No. 7 seed Northern llinois and No. 4 seed Kent State entertaining No. 5 seed Ball State. The UT-EMU winner will face the victor of the Chippewas-Huskies match.

The Rockets will be making their eighth-consecutive MAC Tournament appearance under Head Coach Brad Evans and 10th overall in the history of the program. UT is an impressive 12-1-4 in conference tourney action under Coach Evans, including 2-0-3 away from home. The Midnight Blue & Gold is undefeated in its last six quarterfinal matches and is looking to win an unprecedented fifth MAC Tournament title (2006, ‘07, ‘08, ‘11).

Last season, top seed Toledo downed No. 8 Ohio in the quarterfinal round, 8-0, before topping No. 5 Buffalo, 3-1, in the semifinals. The Rockets then finished off their championship run with a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Western Michigan in the finals, with all the post-season matches taking place at the friendly confines of Scott Park.

Reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year junior Rachel MacLeod continues to fuel UT’s attack with a team-high 12 points (five goals, two assists). The two-time all-league performer is supported offensively by senior Natalia Gaitan (eight pts., four goals) and senior Megan Blake (five pts., two goals with one assist). A total of 11 players have scored a goal this fall.

Toledo will face an Eastern Michigan squad that is riding a three-match win streak, including a 2-1 victory vs. Western Michigan on Thursday. The Eagles are paced offensively by the three-headed monster of Cara Cutaia, Bianca Rossi and Angela Vultaggio with 22 points (seven goals, eight assists), 21 points (eight goals, five assists) and 19 points (six goals, seven assists), respectively. In goal, Jenna O’Dell has started 15 matches between the posts and tallied five shutouts with a 1.37 goals-against average and 82 saves. UT leads the all-time series, 12-9-0, with the Rockets having won two of the last three matchups in Ypsilanti. Earlier this fall, EMU’s Cutaia played a role in all three tallies and finished with two goals and one assist to help her squad claim its first win in the "Glass City" since Sept. 12, 2003.

2012 MAC Women’s Soccer Tournament Schedule

Quarterfinals — Sunday, Oct. 28 (at campus sites/higher seed)
Match 1 — #8 Ohio at #1 Miami, 1:00 p.m.
Match 2 — #5 Ball State at #4 Kent State, 1:00 p.m.
Match 3 — #6 TOLEDO at #3 Eastern Michigan, 1:00 p.m.
Match 4 — #7 Northern Illinois at #2 Central Michigan, Noon

Semifinals — Friday, Nov. 2 (at Highest Remaining Seed)
Match 5 — Match 1 Winner vs. Match 2 Winner, TBA
Match 6 — Match 3 Winner vs. Match 4 Winner, TBA

Championship — Sunday, Nov. 4 (at Highest Remaining Seed)
Match 7 — Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner, TBA

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