NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Central Michigan soccer team’s defense did in the NCAA Tournament what it has done all season long, shut out the opposition.
The Chippewas defeated No. 24 Purdue, 2-0, in their first NCAA Tournament match in program history at Alumni Stadium on Friday. CMU will face No. 5 Notre Dame, who defeated IUPUI 5-0, on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Purdue came out aggressive early, firing a pair of shots in the first minute and a half. Central responded at the other end with a great chance when a long throw by Bailey Brandon was headed in front of the goal to Jenna Hill, but her shot sailed over the net in the fourth minute.
The Boilermakers continued putting pressure on the Chippewa defense throughout the first half and outshot CMU, 10-4, in the opening frame. Purdue nearly put one in when Remi Gibba got behind the back line in the 27th minute, but goalkeeper Shay Mannino came out and deflected the shot high to keep the Boilermakers off the board.
CMU mounted an attack in the final minute of the opening frame as Autumn Hawkins got free on the right side of the attacking box and blasted a shot that PU keeper Jenny Bradfisch leaped high to punch out of play, leading to a CMU corner kick.
With one last chance to get on the board, Claire Horton served a ball low that Bradfisch attempted to make a play on, but the ball deflected off her hand and into the net for an own goal to put the Chippewas up, 1-0, with 13 seconds left in the first half. The Chippewas took the one-goal lead into the break.
The Chippewas came out rejuvenated in the second half and defensively imposed their will on the Boilermakers. Central possessed the ball for extended stretches on offense and stymied Purdue’s attack. CMU outshot PU, 10-8, in the final 45 minutes while holding a 2-0 edge in corner kicks.
CMU created a penalty kick in the 55th minute when Laura Twidle got undercut in the 18-yard box. Liesel Toth got the call to take the kick for the Maroon and Gold and blasted a shot that beat Bradfisch and gave the Chippewas a 2-0 lead. It is the first time the Chippewas have scored more than one goal since Oct. 9.
The two-goal bulge was all the Maroon and Gold defense needed as they posted their nation-leading 19th shutout this season.
“The kids were fantastic today,” head coach Tom Anagnost said. “They played well individually and collectively. (Assistant coach) Neil Stafford did a nice job preparing everyone on the defensive end. The team we played today was very athletic and good with the ball. This is the best team we’ve beaten all year.”
Purdue outshot Central, 18-14, while the Chippewas finished with a 3-2 edge in corner kicks. The victory is the first NCAA Tournament win by a Mid-American Conference team since Western Michigan defeated Illinois in 2003.
Mannino was stellar in goal, stopping all six shots she faced for her 17th solo shutout this season and 29th of her career.
Live stats and a live webcast will be available for Sunday's contest, courtesy of Notre Dame athletics, via the links above. A live blog for Sunday's contest can also be accessed above.