Women's Soccer 2017 MCAC Final Four Preview
It took until the seventh match of the 2017 MCAC Women's Soccer Regular Season for any opponent to score a goal against CMU, and yet a place in the Championship Final Fours was not certain until the final game of the season; a 0-0 draw on Sunday versus Red River Rebels.
In fact, the top five places in the MCAC Women's Soccer standings at the conclusion of the regular season were seperated by a mere 4 points; the top two teams (Providence and USB) tied on points and separated only by head-to-head record, and the third and fourth place team tied on points with the fourth place team (Brandon) recording more wins than the third place team (CMU) but missing out on third place by head-to-head record as well.
#3 CMU (4-2-4) versus #2 USB (6-1-3)
The first team to unlock the CMU goal in 2017 was the team that will stand opposite the Blazers in MCAC semifinal action on Saturday afternoon. After the first meeting of the season between USB and CMU produced no goals in a 0-0 tie, two goals in the opening 20 minutes of their second meeting by USB's Katie Moniot, contributed to a 2-1 USB win and CMU's first loss of the 2017 season.
Since the defeat to USB, the Blazers have limped into the Final Four with a record of 0-2-1 in their final three matches, allowing 4 goals against Providence in a 4-2 defeat and struggling to consistently produce goals. Key injuries to April Klassen, Janelle Wride and Elizabeth Andrews have tested the depth of the CMU roster and also challenged some players to play out of their natural positions.
ABOUT THEIR OPPONENTS
Les Rouges are not known as a dynamic attacking side. Veteran midfielders Alex Berena and Megan Burns contribute on both ends of the field but USB's largest goal output against any of the MCAC's Final Four teams was the two goals they scored against CMU on October 14th. The top scorer for USB, Annick Riet has just 3 goals.
The strength of Les Rouges is in their cohesion and defending. Rianne Stanner and Deanna Demaré are strong and athletic central defenders that make scoring goals against USB a rare occurance. USB allowed only 7 goals against, second only to CMU where second-year goalkeeper Lydia Balsillie has allowed just 6 goals this season.
If the Blazers can get past USB, they will face the winner of #1 Providence Pilots and #4 Brandon Bobcats. With fourth-year striker Julika Phommarath in the lineup, the Pilots are a potent scoring team. The former MCAC Most Valuable Player came on mid-match in last weekend's 4-2 win over CMU to score 2 goals before requiring help to get off of the field. The creative scorer has been plagued by injuries and her presence will likely spell the difference of whether the Pilots can move past the Bobcats, or if the defending Champions will secure a spot in the 2017 MCAC Championships by knocking off this year's first-place team.
The Bobcats depth is not at all in question and is battle-tested. Veterans Jaycee Castle and Jade Barrault have combined with impressive rookie Hosanna Church to form the trio most likely to ground for the Pilots.
The 2017 MCAC Soccer Championships are hosted by CMU at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex. Women's Semifinal games are scheduled to kickoff at 12:00PM on Saturday afternoon. The Women's Championship Final goes Sunday at 1:00PM.