Top-seed Toledo captured its league-record fourth Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship with a 1-0 shutout victory over No. 3 seed Western Michigan Sunday at Scott Park.2011 MAC Offensive Player of the Year Rachel MacLeod scored the match’s lone goal in the 69th minute to propel the Rockets back to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament for the first time since 2008.
UT also becomes the first team in MAC history to win four tourney crowns (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011), surpassing Miami who won three titles (2000, 2001, 2002).
MacLeod netted her team-best 11th goal of the season off a corner kick at 68:01 to send the Toledo bench and fans into a frenzy. Junior Natalia Gaitàn started the play with a well-struck free kick into the heart of the WMU goal box to senior Danielle Case. The tri-captain then advanced the sphere to freshman Rio James on the left side, and she promptly placed it even deeper into Broncos’ territory to MacLeod. The second-year forward got her head on the ball and redirected it past WMU goalkeeper Michelle Watson to register the first goal against the visitors in the last seven matches.
With the shutout victory, the Rockets improve to 14-6-2 on the season. UT was the top seed for the eight-team tournament for the second consecutive year, topping No. 8 seed Ohio, 8-0, and No. 5 seed Buffalo, 3-1, to reach the finals. The Midnight Blue and Gold wrapped up the 2011 tourney with a combined 12 goals scored, eight assists and 32 total points, ranking third-best in all marks in MAC history.
Western Michigan sees its season end at 14-8-0.
UT will learn its NCAA Tournament first-round opponent Monday, Nov. 7, with the selection announcement being made on ncaa.com at approximately 4:30 p.m. The first round of the 64-team, single-elimination tourney will be played next weekend, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 11-13.
Toledo controlled the pace of today’s match throughout and finished with a 14-4 advantage in shots, and the Rockets held a sizable 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
Toledo senior goal keeper Vicki Traven was called up to make only one save between the posts to collect her MAC-record 33rd career shutout, while WMU’s Watson was credited with five stops at the other end.
Senior Ana Reynolds, senior Kristen Lynn, Gaitàn and MacLeod all represented UT on the MAC All-Tournament Team, while WMU’s Anina Cicerone, Caitlin Henderson and Watson joined them on the squad. Rounding out the all-tourney team were Buffalo’s Danielle Turner and Ainsley Wheldon, along with Central Michigan’s Jennifer Gassman and Katie Slaughter.