BUFFALO, NY - Mother nature welcomed the Bulls' women's soccer team back to UB Stadium with a blustery evening as the team fell to Central Michigan 3-0 in the team's first home game in over a month. The Chippewas took advantage of a physical match with an early goal and didn't look back. Freshman goalie Ainsley Wheldon set a career high in saves in the loss.
Much like the two teams' meeting last season, the Chippewas scored early on a penalty kick. A foul on the outer right edge of the box led to a penalty goal in the 30th minute of play to open the scoring. Central Michigan added another late in the first half to end the first frame with a 2-0 lead.
With the wind at their backs, the Bulls shored up the defense for much of the second half. Head Coach Michael Thomas employed a sub pattern of six players at a time to help keep the team active on offense and defense.
"The first half our subbing pattern got disrupted because we wanted to put in ball winners for as much pressure as they were dumping in with the wind behind them," said Thomas. "We've been subbing this way in the second half over the last three games and we have a tremendous amount of depth on this team and we like seeing the immediate impact every time we throw that new line of players in."
A goal off a deflection on a save from Wheldon was put home to tally the third Chippewa goal. Wheldon set a new career high in saves in the game, with 12, marking the fourth time this season that she has recorded double-digit saves.
"Ainsley's biggest strength is handling crosses and corner kicks because she has great footwork and great timing and she's very capable of going up and taking the ball off of player's heads," Thomas said. "She did a great job dealing with those today. We are very excited with her last four games."
The Bulls, now 1-11-1 overall and 0-4-1 in conference play, will rest up for a Sunday matinee at home against Eastern Michigan, the team's second of a five-straight home game schedule. The game will be a matchup of two battle-tested goalies, as the Eagles' Monique Budani has four shutouts and is just ahead of Wheldon on the conference leaders list in total saves for the season. Kickoff is set for noon.