Broncos Finish as MAC Runners-Up, Take No. 2 Seed
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- No. 9 Akron slipped by Western Michigan with a 2-1 double overtime win to knock the Broncos out of first place in the Mid-American Conference in Saturday's regular-season finale.
WMU finishes second in the conference and will be the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament. The Broncos will face No. 3 Hartwick in the semifinals next Friday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.
Winning their ninth-consecutive MAC regular season crown, the Zips earned the No. 1 seed and the right to host the tournament. Akron will face No. 4 West Virginia in the semifinals.
“They scored a good goal and we found a way to score a goal which is what you have to do against a team like Akron,” WMU head coach Chad Wiseman said. “I thought our guys put a courageous effort out there together. We played 50 minutes a man down against arguably the best team in the nation, I don’t think we could have asked anything more than what we got out of our guys.”
Akron struck first Saturday at the WMU Soccer Complex, taking a 1-0 lead on Reinaldo Brenes' goal in the 36th minute. Oliver Mayer tied things up for WMU with his fifth goal of the season in the 80th minute. The Broncos were six minutes away from clinching the regular season with a tie, but Robbie Derschang scored the golden goal for the Zips in the second overtime at the 104 mark.
Western Michigan nearly went up 1-0 early in the fifth minute. After a foul on Akron was called outside the right corner of the box, Kyle Farris curled a free kick over the wall. His shot hit the cross bar and bounced back into play.
Akron took a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute when Adam Najem crossed a ball into the box and Brenes chested it down and volleyed it into the net for his fifth goal of the season.
After going down a man in the 60th minute on a red card, the Broncos fought back hard and were rewarded in the 80th minute. Edu Jimenez booted a corner kick into the box and Mayer headed it off the far post and into the net for his fifth of the season.
Akron's Adam Najem had a big chance to end the game in the first overtime but Chase Rau made a strong save and the two teams battled into the second overtime. With just over six minutes left, Najem took a corner kick and the ball fell to Desrchang, who slotted it into the net to end the game.
Rau made seven saves in the contest, tying a season high. He allowed just three goals total in conference games this season.
WMU finishes the regular season with an 8-8-1 overall and 4-1-1 MAC record. Akron finishes 14-3-1 and 5-1-0 MAC. If both teams should win their MAC Tournament semifinal games, a rematch would be set in the MAC Championship, Nov. 17.