BUFFALO, N.Y. — Jackie Hall’s goal in the 82nd minute and yet another superb defensive performance earned Buffalo the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament after downing sixth-seeded Western Michigan 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at UB Stadium.
With the win, the Bulls earn the MAC’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
The game-winner was started by senior defender Sophie Therien, who put a perfect free kick volley into the box where Katie Roberts had her shot attempt saved but the rebound bounced out to Hall, who buried her fourth goal of the season. Hall scored in her second consecutive MAC tournament match and now has three game-winning goals on the year.
After a back-and-forth first half that saw Western Michigan outshoot the Bulls 6-2, UB came out of the locker room with more intensity and determination than the opening 45 minutes.
The Bulls controlled most of the play to start the second half before Western Michigan had its best chance of the half off the head of Kendall Juhnkie. Juhnkie took a cross and headed her shot towards the UB net, but Laura Dougall stood tall making the save on the attempt.
The final 10 minutes of the match were dominated by the UB defense as they packed it in and didn’t allow the Broncos to have another shot the rest of the way.
The defensive backline of Hall, Therien, Kristin Markiewicz and Angel Hart helped prevent the Western Michigan attack from generating any dangerous chances as they held the Broncos to three shots on goal for the contest. UB has now held their opponents to five shots or less in 16 of 21 matches, including seven in a row.
For the match, UB held the 14-9 edge in shots while Western Michigan had the 2-1 lead in corner kicks. Julia Benati and Roberts led the Bulls with three shots apiece.
Dougall’s great freshman campaign continued on Sunday afternoon as she made three saves to earn her program record 16th victory of the season. Dougall also finished off her program-record 13th clean sheet of the season.
Following the victory, Hall, Megan Giesen, Courtney Mann and Andrea Niper were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team. Hall scored the game-winner on Sunday while Niper had the overtime winner on Friday over Ball State.