Mann Leads Bulls to Critical Road Win
ATHENS, OH - Needing to close out its weekend with three points to remain in the Mid-American Conference tournament chase, the Buffalo women's soccer team (3-9-2, 1-4-1 MAC) faced an Ohio Bobcat team (7-6-1, 2-3-1 MAC) that had lost only one home match all season. Courtney Mann converted a penalty kick in the 18th minute and the Buffalo defense carried the team the rest of the way for a 1-0 win.
The victory was Buffalo's first in the MAC season, and it was the first true road win of the season. The team's other win away from UB Stadium came against Robert Morris in the Niagara Fall Classic, a neutral-field matchup.
"I think this team has been really close all season, and today we did a great job of doing the extra little things that turn the good things that we've been doing into a good result," head coach Michael Thomas said.
At the 17:09 mark in the game, Taylor Thompson took a through ball past the defense and faced a charging Ohio goalie Nicole Amari. She was fouled hard on the play and was shaken up, leading to Mann's eventual game-winner. She cooly scored on the attempt for her second goal of the season on a kick that coach Thomas described as "as un-savable a penalty kick as you could have". The Bulls would pester Amari for the rest of the period, putting five more shots on goal.
"We knew this result was going to happen, because we've been close all season," Mann said. "My goal today came because of Taylor's effort."
Searching for the equalizer in the final frame, Ohio was much more aggressive over the final 45 minutes, but the Buffalo defense was well prepared. Despite allowing eight shots and five corner kicks in the second half alone, the Buffalo defense held its ground to ensure the win.
For the game, both sides took 16 shots, but the Bulls were able to put 10 on goal while limiting the Bobcats to just three. The back line of the defense made life easy for goalie Ainsley Wheldon, blocking down five shots in the game. Wheldon made the final three stops that were put on frame to lock down her third shutout of the season. It was also her 14th career clean sheet, moving her into a three-way tie for the second most in a career in program history.
"The back line was about as close to perfect as you could be today," Thomas said. "They eliminated chances, and when they allowed a chance they made life very difficult for the offense and were able to cut off angles and get in front of shots. That allowed Ainsley to sit back and do what she does best."
On offense, the Bulls received solid production from Courtney Gross (three shots on goal) and a handful of other players. In total, seven different players put a shot on goal and ten different players attempted a shot, displaying an offense that proved to be so successful to the team in games past.
The Bulls will remain on the road for another conference weekend coming up, with two more challenging matches on tap. First will be at Bowling Green on Friday, with a Sunday afternoon game at Central Michigan to follow.