Bulls Eliminated by Northern Illinois in MAC Semifinals
AKRON, OH – The University at Buffalo men's soccer team's came to a heartbreaking conclusion on Friday night with a 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois in the semifinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament played at the University of Akron's FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field.
The third-seeded Bulls (8-8-2) and second-seeded Huskies (13-5-0) were scoreless through the first half with neither team able to find the net. UB got its only shot on goal in the match 17 minutes into the contest as Maksym Kowal's attempt was snared by NIU goalkeeper Jordan Godsey. A UB shot by Richard Craven in the 24th minute went wide of the goal.
Northern Illinois netted the eventual game winner at 62:13 as Gael Rivera's low shot off of a rebound from the right flank found its way past UB goalkeeper Jonathan Viscosi putting the Bulls into a 1-0 deficit.
From there, the Bulls put on a furious rush getting the ball into the box several times in the final 10 minutes but being turned away each time. UB's two shots of the half at 83:24 by Tony Smith and 88:02 by Lukas Fedler were blocked by NIU defenders.
Viscosi was credited with four saves for the Bulls, all in the second half. Godsey's one save on the Kowal first half attempt was all he would need for the shutout. NIU outshot UB 16-4 for the match and held an 8-3 edge in corner kicks.
"This was a tough one to swallow," said interim head coach David Hesch. "I felt the boys played well enough to win but need to find a way to finish our chances in the box. Hats go off to the seniors, they are going to be tough to replace. This team would not have reached where we were if it wasn't for my staff. They did a tremendous job."
Northern Illinois will face fourth-seeded Western Michigan in Sunday's championship match for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. WMU scored the upset over defending national champion Akron, winning in penalty kicks.