AKRON, Ohio – Lani Smith scored with under five minutes remaining, lifting the University of Akron to a 2-1 win over the Bowling Green State University women's soccer team Sunday afternoon (Oct. 20). The Mid-American Conference match was held at FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field.
Senior Madeline Wideman had given the Falcons (0-13-1, 0-7-1 MAC) the lead midway through the first half, and BGSU took that 1-0 advantage into the half. But, the Zips tied the score on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute, before Smith notched the winning goal in the 86th.
"Today was a bit of a heartbreaker," said BGSU head coach Lindsay Basalyga. "I thought we had a good game plan going into the game, and we executed it to the best of our abilities.
"We need to be more confident making big plays at key moments to help keep us in the game. True to form, we competed for 90 minutes today, and found a moment that will help make us a better program in the future."
The Falcons put together one of the team's best 45-minute stretches of the season in the opening half on Sunday, taking a one-goal lead and coming close to scoring on several other occasions.
After Smith fired a shot that was well off target in the opening minutes for the Zips (5-8-3, 2-5-1 MAC), the Falcons had the next three shots of the match, with a pair of corner kicks in that time as well. BGSU had a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks for the game, including a 4-0 margin in the first half.
Less than five minutes in, senior Ivi Casagrande played a well-struck cross through the 18-yard box, but no teammate could reach it, and the ball went out of bounds.
Several moments later, Wideman made a long run and hit a shot from just outside the box, but UA starting goalkeeper Alex Luevano-Harden was able to grab it at the near post.
Just over 30 seconds after that save, the Falcons were back on the attack. A diagonal ball found freshman Haley Malaczewski near the 18-yard line, and Malaczewski headed it on target, but the shot from distance was hit directly at Luevano-Harden, who made the stop.
The Falcons won a corner kick in the 14th minute, and Casagrande played a short corner to Wideman. Wideman made a left-to-right run across the box and fired a hard shot on target. Luevano-Harden made the save, almost in self-defense, and the ball went out of play for a other BG corner. This time, the Zips fouled Wideman after Casagrande's corner, but the ensuing free kick was headed out of the box.
After just one shot in the first 18-plus minutes, the Zips then had three shots in a two-minute span. Smith ran onto a forward ball and hit a one-timer that rolled just wide of the far post.
UA's Sydney Blomquist put a shot well over the goal, and BGSU redshirt freshman 'keeper Lauren Cadel then stopped a straightaway shot by Sarah Sivic, grabbing it on the short-hop without allowing a rebound.
Wideman's goal came at the 21:53 mark. The Falcons pressured a UA player in the Zips' defensive end of the field, and Casagrande dispossessed her, knocking the ball away near the left side of the field.
Wideman ran onto that ball, heading diagonally toward the goal. From distance, the senior blasted a shot toward the upper-right-hand corner of the goal. Luevano-Harden was able to get a hand on the ball, but was unable to keep it from whizzing past her and hitting the back of the net.
The goal was Wideman's team-leading third of the season.
In the 28th minute, senior Jenny Fowler nearly connected with Malaczewski on a through ball, but, with a defender on her, Malaczewski's progress was slowed just enough that Luevano-Harden could get to the ball before the Falcon freshman.
With just over three minutes remaining in the period, Wideman stole the ball in BG's end of the field and made one of her patented runs down the center of the park. She drew a defender toward her and slid a pass to freshman Taylor Bucaro on her left.
Bucaro cut back toward the center of the field and fired a blast toward the near post, but Luevano-Harden was able to block the shot out for a corner kick.
UA successfully dealt with that corner, but in the final minute of the period, Wideman put Jessica Creech through, and Creech won the Falcons another corner. That kick, however, was cleared out of the penalty area, and the Brown and Orange took a one-goal lead into the intermission.
BGSU had a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal in the opening period, and the Falcons took all four first-half corners.
The Zips came out firing in the second half, but Cadel made a diving stop of a long shot by Blomquist, and Madison Kaser put a shot over the crossbar from a dangerous location moments later.
In the 63rd minute, however, the Falcons were called for a foul as a UA free kick sailed into the box, and a penalty kick was awarded. Amber Kern converted that PK, and the match was tied.
The Falcons looked to retake the lead, but saw several forays into the Akron end thwarted before getting a shot off. Finally, in the 82nd minute, senior Kaitlyn Tobin poked a ball away from the Zips near midfield, and Wideman made a long run downfield, but her shot went wide.
With six-and-a-half minutes on the clock, Bucaro and Wideman successfully exchanged passes as BGSU advanced the ball down the right side of the field. Bucaro took Wideman's return pass and and slid a cross into the box. Malaczewski just missed getting a foot on the ball before UA's Klaire Adee corralled it. Adee played the second half in goal in relief of Luevano-Harden.
With 4:18 remaining, Smith and the Zips broke the tie. Smith got behind the defense and ran onto the ball unimpeded in the penalty area, on the right side. She placed her shot just inside the far post, and the home team had the lead.
The Falcons fought until the final seconds. Tobin was fouled with two minutes to go, and freshman Paige Amodio played her free kick into the box. Adee punched the ball away, and it rolled out of bounds.
The ensuing throw-in found its way to junior Ashley Garr. Garr's crossing effort was blocked, but senior Alyssa Carmack hustled to play the ball back into the box. As Carmack's ball sailed toward a BG teammate near the end line, however, the assistant referee raised his flag to indicate offside against the Falcons, and the Zips closed out the remaining 50 seconds to pick up the win.
Wideman was a constant threat to the Zips all afternoon, firing five of the Falcons' seven total shots and three of the team's five shots on goal.
Cadel made four saves in her complete-match effort in goal, while the UA 'keepers combined for four stops as well. Luevano-Harden made three saves during the first half, while Adee had one save in the second half.
The Falcons return to Northwest Ohio to prepare for the final two home matches of the 2013 regular season. BGSU will face Ball State on Friday night (Oct. 25) and Miami Sunday afternoon (Oct. 27) at Cochrane Field. Friday's BSU match begins at 7:00 p.m., with the Miami contest set for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.