Toledo (2-6-0) will begin its quest to capture an unprecedented third consecutive Mid-American Conference regular-season crown on Friday, Sept. 21 at Western Michigan (4-4-0). The opening whistle is slated for 4:00 p.m. from the WMU Soccer Complex. UT is 8-7-0 all-time in MAC openers, including an impressive 7-4-0 under 12th-year Head Coach Brad Evans.
Following the Broncos' contest, the four-time MAC Tournament champion Rockets will return home to battle Eastern Michigan (3-3-1) on Sunday, Sept. 23. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. from Scott Park. Sunday's contest with the Eagles has been tabbed as "Bark at Scott Park."
UT has been picked to successfully defend its MAC West Division crown and capture a league-record fifth tourney title according to the coaches' preseason poll, while WMU and EMU are tabbed to finish third and fifth in the division, respectively.
Toledo will look to put an end to a three-match losing streak when it opens league play against the Broncos. UT is coming off a 1-0 setback against Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Illinois State on Sunday at the corner of Hill Avenue and Parkside Boulevard. The Midnight Blue & Gold controlled much of the action against the Redbirds and finished with a decisive 18-7 edge in shots and a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks. Unfortunately for the Rockets, they were unable to put the ball into the back of the net and suffered their fourth shutout of the season.
One reason for UT's slow start in 2012 has been its inability to finish around the goal. The Rockets have scored only six goals in their eight matches, signifying their lowest offensive production in the history of the program at this stage of the season.
Junior Rachel MacLeod tops the UT scoring charts with three goals, followed by junior Emily Tustin, sophomore Rio James and sophomore Sarah Seig with one goal each. The 2011 MAC Offensive Player of the Year is currently tied for eighth in the league in goals. A season ago, MacLeod scored a goal in both contests against the Broncos, including the lone tally in UT's 1-0 victory in the MAC Tournament Finals.
As a team, UT is 10th in the MAC in shots (84), tied for 10th in goals and tied for 11th in total points (15) and assists (3).
On the backline, freshman Sam Tiongson (2-2-0 record) and sophomore Kelsey Borowitz (0-4-0 mark) continue to split time. Tiongson has seen action in 377:03 minutes, allowing four goals (0.95 GAA) while making 13 saves. Borowitz has accumulated 360:00 minutes between the posts, giving up eight scores (2.00 GAA) with 11 stops.
As a unit, UT is tied for fifth in the league in shutouts (2), 10th in goals-against average (1.47) and 11th in goals allowed (12).
Two-time reigning MAC Tournament finalist Western Michigan enters Friday's league opener with a 4-4-0 overall mark and is coming off a 1-0 setback at Michigan State on Wednesday, Sept. 12. 2011 MAC All-Freshman Team honoree Rachel Chaney leads the attack with four goals and eight total points. Chaney is tied for fourth in the conference in scores. Between the posts, Michelle Watson has played every minute and has been credited with 19 saves and a 1.23 GAA. The all-time series between the division rivals is tied at 8-8-1, with Toledo winning four of the last five matchups. Last fall, the Rockets claimed a 3-2 road victory during the regular season and 1-0 triumph in the MAC Tournament Finals at Scott Park. UT and WMU will be squaring off against one another in its respective MAC openers for the sixth time, with Toledo holding a 3-2-0 mark in the previous contests.
Eastern Michigan begins the MAC slate with a 3-3-1 overall ledger and most recently dropped a 2-0 decision at Michigan State on Sunday, Sept. 9. 2011 MAC Freshman Player of the Year selection Angela Vultaggio paces the squad with 10 points (three goals, four assists). Vultaggio is tied for first in the MAC in helpers, tied for fifth in total points and tied for eighth in goals. She is closely supported by Bianca Rossi and Cara Cutaia with eight points (three goals, two assists) and seven points (two goals, three assists), respectively. In net, Jenna O'Dell has played every minute and has been credited with a MAC-season high 52 stops, two shutouts and a 1.38 GAA. UT leads the all-time series, 12-8-0, with the Rockets having won six of the last seven matchups. Last fall, Toledo claimed a 2-1 victory in Ypsilanti. EMU plays at Bowling Green on Friday, before coming to the "Glass City" two days later.