The Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team battled the University at Buffalo Bulls to the tune of a 1-1 draw on Friday at Scicluna Field. The draw was the first conference tie the Eagles have had all season.
“I think we created some very nice opportunities, but we just got outworked today,” EMU head coach Scott Hall said. “We weren’t very good with our possession or our combining, but no discredit to Buffalo, they outplayed us today. ”
Junior forward Angela Vultaggio scored the lone goal for EMU (9-6-2, 6-2-1 Mid-American Conference), with senior midfielder Stephanie Clarke picking up the assist, her sixth of the season.
Sophomore goalkeeper Megan McCabe continued her stellar play in net, stopping five shots.
Buffalo (5-8-3, 2-6-1 MAC) got the equalizing goal from junior midfielder Megan Giesen, her second of the season. In net, senior goalkeeper Ainsley Wheldon matched McCabe, stopping five shots of her own.
Eastern came out of the shoot with a patient, but persistent game plan that saw the Eagles dominate possession in the Buffalo half of the field. But the stingy BU defense kept the EMU attack from advancing, as they went the first 11 minutes without a shot on target.
But the patience and persistence of the Eagles offense paid off on their first opportunity of the game.
In the 12th minute, Clarke beat her defender to the end line and sent a looping ball into the Buffalo box. Vultaggio got just enough of her head onto the ball to deflect it into the goal, and the Eagles took n early 1-0 lead.
“We (the forwards and midfielders) all need to connect and stay together to get the result,” Vultaggio said. “I think we are playing to our potential, we just need to put it in the back of the net more because we are getting the chances, we just need to put them away.”
The goal seemed to awaken the Eastern offense, and junior forward Bianca Rossi nearly doubled the Eagles lead in the 24th minute as she corralled a ball on the right side and sent a screaming shot toward goal, but the ball narrowly missed the frame and the threat was ended.
The momentum of attack seemed to swing toward Buffalo’s favor following the Rossi try, as the Bulls began to possess and press the Eagles defense. But the EMU backline held their own and stifled the BU attack with timely interceptions and blocked shots, as the Bulls were only able to muster up one shot on goal in the half.
Eastern garnered the final opportunity of the first half when sophomore forward Megan Trapp sent a shot toward the goal, but Wheldon came up strong with the save and the game went into halftime with the Eagles on top with 1-0.
The second half began with the Bulls on the attack, possessing and pressing toward the EMU goal. Buffalo finally broke through in the 50th minute to tie the game at one.
A Bulls corner kick was swung into the Eastern box and, after the ball bounced around, it fell onto Giesen’s foot and her driven shot beat McCabe and leveled the score.
Vultaggio didn’t waste any time trying to grab the lead back for EMU, as the forward got her head onto a driven cross just 30 seconds after the Buffalo goal, but Wheldon preserved the tie with the save.
Play settled until the 75th minute, when it was McCabe’s turn to come up with a save. The goalkeeper didn’t disappoint, stopping a dangerous drive from BU freshman midfielder Andrea Niper.
Eastern countered with an opportunity of its own when Rossi got into space and sent a hard cross in the Buffalo box. Senior midfielder Cara Cutaia beat her defender to the ball and sent in the shot, but Wheldon challenged and made the diving save, keeping the game tied at one.
The two teams traded positions for the rest of the second half and, after McCabe made save on Buffalo’s junior defenseman Sophie Therien, neither team garnered another opportunity and regulation ended with a 1-1 score.
The first overtime saw the two teams trade shots within the first two minutes of the extra session, with Wheldon coming up with another save on a Vultaggio header.
But it was the Eagles, who had the best opportunity to end things when Trapp unleashed a shot from the top of the box, but the ball sailed wide and the game went into a second overtime.
During the second OT, neither offense could muster any kind of pressure until 104th minute, when the Eagles missed a golden opportunity to put the Bulls to rest. Cutaia hit Vultaggio with a pass, as the forward was sprinting into the BU box.
The junior made a nifty move to get past Wheldon, whose missed dive left the Buffalo goal wide open. But persistent defending forced Vultaggio into passing the ball to a contested Rossi, who sent the shot over the crossbar.
The opportunity would be the last shot either team would have, as the final whistle blew, ending the game in a 1-1 tie.
“We created a lot of chances, we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Clarke said of her team’s performance. “With teams in the MAC, it is pretty scrappy every game and every team hangs in there, so we just need to finish them off early.”
What’s Up Next:
The Eagles will host the Akron Zips in its final home game of the 2013 season on Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. At halftime, seniors Clarke, Cutaia, midfielders Allison Kaim, Megan Pedro and defenseman Emily Kowalzyk will be honored for their EMU careers.
Follow Josh Dye on Twitter: @JdyeEMUEcho.