YPSILANTI, MI - No. 6 seed Toledo and No. 3 seed Eastern Michigan battled to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtime periods on Sunday at Scicluna Field, before the Rockets (7-11-2) advanced, 2-1, on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament. By winning the battle in PKs, the defending MAC Tournament champions will move forward to the semifinals for an eighth consecutive season.
The Eagles see their season come to an end with an 11-6-2 overall record.
In other MAC Tournament action, top seed Miami edged out No. 8 seed Ohio, 1-0, and will host the semifinals and the championship match next weekend at Miami Soccer Field. No. 2 seed Central Michigan doubled up No. 7 seed Northern Illinois, 2-0, and No. 4 seed Kent State blanked No. 5 seed Ball State, 4-0. UT will now face CMU in the second semifinal matchup on Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:00 p.m., following the RedHawks-Golden Flashes contest at 11:00 a.m.
UT and EMU could not determine a winner in 110 minutes of play, before settling matters through penalty kicks. Today marked the fifth time in school history UT has had a tourney match decided by PKs, with the Midnight Blue & Gold having advanced on three occasions.
In the penalty kick phase, Toledo won the coin toss and elected to go second.
EMU’s Stephanie Clarke stepped to the line first and successfully converted her attempt into the lower left corner of the net past diving sophomore goalie Kelsey Borowitz.
Senior Natalia Gaitan kicked first for the four-time tourney champions and had her shot toward the lower left corner blocked by EMU netminder Jenna O’Dell.
In the second round, the Eagles’ Molli Krick fired a shot that sailed wide left to keep the home team’s lead at 1-0.
Toledo needed a score to equal the difference at 1-1 and called upon senior tri-captain Kristen Mattei to take its second shot. The Copley, OH native came through with flying colors and perfectly placed a shot into the lower right corner of the net to draw the teams even.
Both teams were unsuccessful in round three, as EMU’s Bianca Rossi’s shot was blocked by Borowitz, and UT senior Megan Blake hit the crossbar on the right side.
Neither squad could convert in round four as well, as Eastern Michigan’s Marisa Kozikowski’s shot hit the right post, before Toledo sophomore Alexis Tice had her attempt toward the right corner blocked by O’Dell.
To begin the fifth and final round, the Eagles’ Cara Cutaia air mailed her shot toward the upper right corner, setting the stage for junior Rachel MacLeod’s match-winning kick. MacLeod calmly made the walk from midfield and placed a low shot into the left corner of the net to send the UT bench and its fans into a mad frenzy.
In regulation, UT’s Mattei opened the scoring with her second goal of the season at the 9:54 mark. The fourth-year midfielder received a pass from MacLeod and slid a low shot just inside the near post from approximately 12 yards out to give the visitors the early advantage.
The score remained the same until EMU’s Clarke tallied the equalizer at 35:45. The play was setup on a nice cross from the left side by Chelsie Oddan to Clarke, who redirected it into the back of the frame with a header from approximately 10-yards out.
In the first overtime, UT had the wind at its back and nearly won the match on a shot by freshman Angelica Hernandez. The Bogota, Colombia native helped cause a turnover deep in Eastern Michigan territory with a little under four minutes showing on the clock. Hernandez then found a seam in the EMU defense and blasted a shot that O’Dell was in the proper position to make the save.
In the second extra period, the Eagles were presented with their best opportunity to score with the aid of the wind. EMU’s Emily Kowalzyk sent a clearing kick downfield, which found an open Angela Vultaggio behind the last line of the UT defense. With only freshman goalie Sam Tiongson to beat, Vultaggio sent a lofted shot on the frame that fell onto the top of the goal, sending the match to penalty kicks.
The Rockets finished the match with a MAC Tournament record 25 shots, including a staggering 11 in the second half. UT’s previous post-season record was 23 shots vs. Ohio in the quarterfinal round on Oct. 30, 2011. MacLeod paced the offense with a career-tying best six shots. The two-time All-MAC honoree has now totaled six shots on three occasions in her illustrious career.
TOLEDO 1, Eastern Michigan 1 (2OT)
Rockets’ Advance 2-1 on Penalty Kicks
UT: Kristen Mattei (Rachel MacLeod), 9:54
EMU: Stephanie Clarke (Chelsie Oddan), 35:45
Penalty Kick Order
EMU: Stephanie Clarke (Kick Good)
UT: Natalia Gaitan (Kick Failed, Saved)
EMU: Molli Krick (Kick Failed, Wide Left)
UT: Kristen Mattei (Kick Good)
EMU: Bianca Rossi (Kick Failed, Saved)
UT: Megan Blake (Kick Failed, Wide Right Off Crossbar)
EMU: Marisa Kozikowski (Kick Failed, Wide Right Off Post)
UT: Alexis Tice (Kick Failed, Saved)
EMU: Cara Cutaia (Kick Failed, Wide Right)
UT: Rachel MacLeod (Kick Good)
SHOTS: UT 25, EMU 14
CORNER KICKS: UT 7, EMU 4
SAVES: UT 4, EMU 8
FOULS: UT 10, EMU 7