Broncos Fall to Akron in MAC Championship
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The fourth-ranked Western Michigan men's soccer team fell to Akron, 3-1, in the 2017 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship game on Sunday afternoon at the WMU Soccer Complex.
After going down 1-0 late in the first half, Ben Thornton scored from in front of the net after an Akron player had cleared the ball off the line to tie it up at 1-1 with 11 seconds left in the half.
WMU (16-3-1) got seven shots off in the second half but the Zips sips scored two goals to seal the win. Pepe Martinez-Bertrand had a chance from inside the 18-yard box on a volley with 16:30 left in the game that would have tied it up at 2-2, but Akron keeper Ben Lundt made the save.
The Zips took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Sam Gainford in the 56th minute. Skye Harter played a corner kick into the box and Gainford redirected it towards the goal. The ball deflected off of a WMU defender and into the net.
Akron added its second goal of the half in the 78th minute, pushing the lead to 3-1. Nick Hinds crossed the ball into the box and Manuel Cordeiro one-timed it into the net for his second goal of the season.
Brandon Bye also had a late chance to tie the game up at 2-2 but after Kosti Moni played him through into the box his chance was blocked by an Akron defender.
The Zips held the advantage in shots 17-10 but only had a slight lead in shots on goal at 6-5.
"Congratulations to Akron, they were fantastic today," said head coach Chad Wiseman. "From the very start we weren't able to disrupt their rhythm and when you play Akron, I believe that is the key if you want to find a result. Our guys competed and played hard, Akron was just better today."
WMU's Giuseppe Vitale, Anthony Bowie and Connor McNulty all earned spots on the MAC All-Tournament team.
"I want to thank Aaron Dykstra and his staff for having the field in unbelievable shape for this week's championship," added Wiseman. "I want to thank Matt Kulik and his staff for all the work they did to make this weekend a special event."
"We will regroup. We know tomorrow at 1 p.m. that our name will be called and there is a great chance we will be a top 16 seed, hosting a second round NCAA Tournament match. Say that out loud. These guys have a lot to be proud of and a lot of soccer still to play."
After earning the program's first regular season MAC Title, the Broncos now await their NCAA Tournament fate on Monday. The team will be hosting a watch party at University Roadhouse just off campus at 1 p.m. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show can be viewed live on NCAA.com at 1 p.m.