OXFORD, Ohio - The Central Michigan women’s soccer team fell in a hard-fought Mid-American Conference Championship match to Miami (Ohio), 2-1, Sunday afternoon.
Freshman forward Danielle Rotheram scored the lone goal as the Chippewas (15-6-1) outshot the RedHawks (19-2-1), 9-7, and applied steady pressure throughout much of the match, but could not break through for the equalizing goal in the second half.
Central Michigan now awaits its NCAA postseason fate as a potential at-large bid to the 64-team field, while Miami has secured a spot as a conference champion. The field will be announced Monday during the NCAA Tournament selection show beginning at 4:30 p.m.
“The physical effort was there, but we just needed to play smarter,” head coach Neil Stafford said. “We hurt ourselves by making mistakes that resulted in goals, but with their effort you can’t fault them.
“The unfortunate part of it is that destiny is no longer in our hands and it is now in the NCAA selection committee’s. I hope the committee feels that we’ve earned a chance to represent our school and our conference after a difficult schedule and being ranked in the 30s in the NCAA RPI rankings all season long.”
After not scoring their first goal until the first minute of double overtime in the regular season matchup between the two sides, the RedHawks found the scoreboard early as MAC Freshman of the Year Haley Walter beat a sliding Stefanie Turner and rolled a shot into goal in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead. MAC Offensive Player of the Year Jess Kodiak assisted on the goal.
The Chippewas answered in the 32nd minute when a long cross from junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser from the far side was mis-played by Miami goalkeeper Allison Norenberg and buried in the top of the net by Rotheram to tie the match, 1-1.
The goal was Rotheram’s fourth of the season, tying her for the team lead, and it gives her the total points lead with 11 (four goals, three assists). Schlosser’s assist was her second of the season.
Rotheram was one of three CMU players to earn MAC All-Tournament honors following the match, joined by senior defender Katie Slaughter and junior defender Estee Outcalt.
The Chippewas took five shots in the half, while allowing three to Miami, as both teams played a very even half.
Though the Chippewas began to create more offensive opportunities in the second half, it was the RedHawks who scored in the 59th minute with a goal by Hailey Pleshakov on a header toward the near post. The goal was assisted by Katy Dolesh.
The Chippewas had a couple of promising opportunities that were derailed in the late stages of the second half. A run through the middle of the field by Schlosser up into the box was fended away by the RedHawks with 13 minutes remaining, and another CMU push into the box from the near side two minutes later was also cleared.
Turner made an important save in the 81st minute to keep the Chippewas in the match and punch a shot by Kelsey Dinges just over the crossbar.
The Chippewas earned a free kick from just outside the attacking third in the 84th minute, but they were called offside as the kick went airborne.
The RedHawks sustained possession in the closing minutes to seal the match.
Rotheram fired a team-high two shots on goal, while Schlosser, sophomore forward Laura Gosse and senior Autumn Hawkins each took one.
The Chippewas entered the weekend 35th in the NCAA RPI rankings, which takes into account a team's record, its opponents' records, and its opponents' opponents' record. With quality decisions in wins over West Virginia and Dayton and a scoreless draw at No. 12 Marquette, and a nationally prominent defense, the Chippewas have a national resume worthy of consideration for the tournament.
2012 MAC All-Tournament Team
Estee Outcalt, Central Michigan
Danielle Rotheram, Central Michigan
Katie Slaughter, Central Michigan
Sara Henderson, Kent State
Hannah Newhouse, Kent State
Kayla Zakrzewski, Miami (OH)
Haley Walter, Miami (OH)
Courtney Zanotti, Miami (OH)
Jess Kodiak, Miami (OH)
Natalia Gaitan, Toledo
Kristen Mattei, Toledo