Soccer team secures MAC tourney spot
Seven games into the eleven-game round-robin MAC season, and the EMU women’s soccer team has secured a post-season spot. The top eight MAC teams go on to the MAC tournament. After a 3-1 win yesterday over Northern Illinois, the Eagles advanced their conference record to 5-0-2, and with four games remaining, the worst they can possibly finish in the MAC is 5-4-2, which would still put them ahead of Ball State, Buffalo, Akron, and Kent State, all of which have five or six MAC losses. So the Eagles will definitely be playing on Halloween, and it only remains to determine who and where. If the season were to end today, the first round (10/31) games would be (if I’m figuring tie-breakers correctly) Bowling Green at Toledo, Ohio at Central Michigan, Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan at Miami.
The season does not end today, however, and the Eagles have several key games that will determine whether they’ll get the treat of hosting a Halloween game at Scicluna Field or whether they’ll face the trick of going on the road.
Those key games start tomorrow, when EMU hosts Western Michigan (7-6-2, 3-2-2 MAC). The Broncos haven’t clinched a tournament spot yet, but they’re close, and if they win, they could lock in their spot tomorrow. Then, after a trip next Friday to Muncie to face the 6-7-2 (0-5-2 MAC) Ball State Cardinals, the Eagles close out the regular season with trips to the top two teams in the MAC, Toledo (11-2-2, 7-0-0 MAC) and Central Michigan (10-3-1, 7-0-0 MAC). As their records suggest, Toledo and Central Michigan haven’t yet played each other — they’ll face off in Toledo next Friday — so by the team EMU gets to them, either one will have a loss or both will have a tie. Looking through the possibilities, what this means is that the Eagles can finish in the top two, giving the possibility of a second-round tournament home game, by winning out, and if Toledo and Central Michigan tie each other and EMU wins out, the Eagles will be the MAC regular season champions!
So get over to Scicluna Field for the game at 1 pm tomorrow! On top of the post-season implications, it’s the final EMU home game of the regular season, which means it’s Senior Day, and time to bid farewell to Paige Sheridan, Stephanie Janssens, Maggie Christensen, and Monique Budani. With seven saves yesterday, Budani is just eight away from tying EMU’s single-season record of 126 saves set by Erin Norton in 1997. With four regular season games left and at least one tournament game guaranteed, it’s hard to imagine Budani not breaking this record; the only question in my mind is when and by how much. She’s averaging just over seven saves per game, so it’s possible that she’ll tie or break the record tomorrow. All in all, it figures to be a Senior Day to remember!