Men’s soccer’s 2-0 loss on Saturday against Bowling Green seeded them fifth in the Mid-American Conference tournament. This placed extreme importance on Tuesday’s tournament match against fourth-seeded Akron.
Had they won Saturday, the Cougars would have seeded second and been guaranteed a spot in Friday’s semifinal game. Due to Saturday’s results, the Cougars had to win Tuesday in order to advance past the Mid-American quarterfinals.
“We are disappointed,” Head Coach Mario Sanchez said of Saturday’s loss. “We started off really well in conference. Our first two games we had a win and a tie and we were first place and then, unfortunately, we’ve hit a rough patch and we’ve lost three in a row. ”
The course of Saturday’s game changed when the Falcons scored a goal from a corner kick with only 13 seconds left in the first half.
“It was a goal that we gave up on a set piece and we’ve been trying to improve and make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” senior midfielder Greg Solawa said.
This late goal added extra pressure to the Cougars to turn it around in the second half. The second goal came at 48:42 when the Falcons shot off the goal post and landed the ball in the net.
The Cougars followed this setback by taking more risks and changing their formation to be more focused on the back line.
“At that point in the game I was pretty frustrated because the game wasn’t going our way,” redshirt senior midfielder Keegan McHugh said. “The game ended up becoming very open, which lead to a lot of counterattacks and changes in possession, but our mentality in that moment was just trying to get back into the game.”
For Sanchez, this aggressive playing came too late in the game. He stressed the importance of starting Tuesday’s game off strong.
While a goal by Solawa at 17:11 tied up Tuesday’s quarterfinal match, it was not enough to secure the win. The Cougar’s last game ended with a 2-1 loss, making their overall season record 9-5-4.
“We think that it’s been a great season for us,” Solawa said. “Every game we’ve always given ourselves a chance to get a result.”
This marks the second time in six years that the Cougars have not advanced to the MAC semifinal.