Central Michigan University scored three times in the second half en route to a 4-0 win over the Bowling Green State University women's soccer team Thursday afternoon (Oct. 25). The Mid-American Conference match, the final regular-season contest for both teams, was held at a sun-drenched Cochrane Field.
With the win, the Chippewas improve to 13-5-1 overall, and Central finishes MAC regular-season play with a league ledger of 9-2-0. CMU won the MAC's West Division title and will be the second seed for the MAC Tournament, which begins Sunday.
BGSU ends the season with records of 1-17-1 overall and 0-10-1 in conference play.
Two of Central's goals came in the final nine-plus minutes of action, making Falcon goalkeeper Jenna Underwood's stat line look rather harsh. For the third consecutive match, the BG freshman had a double-digit save total, with 10 stops on the day.
On a 76-degree day at Cochrane Field, Samantha Brenz gave the visitors the lead with just under 20 minutes gone, heading home a diagonal ball to give her team a one-goal advantage at the half. Nicole Samuel scored in the 49th minute to double CMU's lead, and Laura Gosse and Charlese McLemore each found the back of the net in the late stages of the match.
Stephanie Turner and Grace Labrecque each played 45 minutes in goal for the visitors. Turner had three saves in the opening half, while Labrecque played the second period and made one stop.
Central's initial goal came when Kaely Schlosser hit a long ball into the box from the left side of the pitch. Brenz met the ball in stride and headed it back the other way, into the left-hand corner of the goal. That goal, which proved to be the game winner, came at the 19:56 mark.
The Chippewas had a 10-5 advantage in first-half shots, but CMU could not add to the lead over the remainder of the period. First-half shots on goal saw the visitors with a slim 5-3 margin.
Several of BGSU's best chances in the opening half did not result in shots, as the Falcons just missed connecting on several through balls. Junior Madeline Wideman played the ball ahead for classmate Kaitlyn Tobin only moments before CMU's goal, but Turner came off of her line and just did beat Tobin to the ball.
Then, halfway through the opening period, the Falcons were able to string a number of passes together to work the ball deep into the CMU end. Senior Leah Johnson and redshirt junior Jenny Fowler were involved in the buildup, and freshman Demy Whitaker split two Central defenders with a pass. But, once again, Turner reacted quickly and got to Whitaker's pass a split-second before senior Sarah VonderBrink arrived.
With four minutes remaining before halftime, a free kick by Amanda Nelson sailed into the box, where numerous players from both teams awaited the service. The ball was knocked around, and came outside of the box, in the vicinity of freshman Emma Norris. Norris hit a long shot that forced Turner to make a diving save at the left post.
Just over a minute later, VonderBrink stole a pass near midfield. The senior took several dribbles, then uncorked a low shot that rolled just wide of the far post. Though the Falcons did not equalize before the half, BG had the ball in CMU's end of the field for the bulk of the final 10 minutes before intermission.
The Chippewas got a crucial goal early in the second period, as Samuel came up with a steal, fought off a defender on the right side of the penalty area and tucked a shot inside the far post. The unassisted goal came at the 48:44 mark.
The visitors would get a pair of goals in the late stages of the match. With just 9:05 left, a through ball by Christen Chiesa found Gosse, who outraced a BG defender to the ball and went far post with her shot.
Then, with under four minutes remaining, Jennifer Gassman won a ball on the end line and slid a pass to Chiesa in the center of the box. Chiesa redirected the pass to McLemore on her left. Underwood stopped McLemore's first shot from point-blank range, but the CMU senior was able to knock the rebound home to close the scoring.
Underwood's 10 saves included a diving stop on Danielle Rotheram midway through the first period, and a nice leaping effort to tip a long shot by Schlosser over the bar 10 minutes into the second half. Each 'keeper was forced to make a save in the final minute of the match, as Labrecque stopped a shot by Johnson from the top of the box with 30 seconds left, and Underwood smothered a McLemore effort just before the final horn.
On the year, Underwood had a total of 74 saves, including 65 in MAC action. She made a total of 34 saves over the final three matches of the season.
Interim head coach Kellie Evans and assistant coach Bubby Leasure had just four seniors on the 27-woman roster in 2012. That group included fifth-year seniors Leah Johnson and Becca Ison, along with fourth-year Falcons Emily Rothwell and Sarah VonderBrink.