TOLEDO, Ohio - Central Michigan saw its quest for a third-straight Mid-American Conference Tournament title come to an end Friday, falling in double-overtime to Western Michigan, 1-0.
The two teams played all of regulation and one and a half overtimes without a score and looked to be heading to penalty kicks before Anina Cicerone headed the Broncos' (14-7) into Sunday's championship match versus No. 1 seed Toledo.
With less than six minutes to play in the second overtime, Caitlin Henderson fired a long free kick into the box where she found Cicerone, who headed the ball past junior goalkeeper Stefanie Turner at the 104:31 mark for her ninth goal of the season.
"Unfortunately, we came out too slow and full credit to Western," head coach Neil Stafford said. "We were too start-stop with our game today and for that we ultimately paid the price. We had some great opportunities in the second half and their keeper came up big with a couple of saves. Words can't describe how we are feeling right now."
The loss drops the Chippewas' record to 15-3-3 on the season and leaves the fate of their season in the hands of the NCAA selection committee. The Maroon and Gold entered the week 46th in the latest NCAA Division I RPI rankings and will find out Monday evening if they will be invited to their third-straight NCAA Women's College Cup.
"You could say we have a great year, but it all comes down to conference play," Stafford said. "We will keep our fingers crossed. Obviously we have had a quality program the last several years and if the committee feels we are worthy of going in that's great."
The Broncos came out firing in the first half, forcing Turner to make save after save to keep the sheet clean. The junior made five saves in all in the first 45 minutes.
While WMU was firing shot after shot, the Chippewas mustered just two shots on goal in the first half and four in the game. Western's Michelle Watson made four saves to earn her eighth-straight shutout, extending her team's longest shutout streak and consecutive minutes scoreless streaks in program history.CMU held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks in the contest while just being outshot by the Broncos, 14-13.