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Courtesy: Nicole Watkins

Broncos Face No. 1 Seed Akron in MAC Tournament Semifinals

Courtesy: Kristin Keirns, associate director of athletic media relations
Release: 11/10/2011
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KALAMAZOO, Mich.- No. 4 seed Western Michigan makes its third trip to the MAC Tournament in as many years and will take on No. 1 seed Akron in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. In the second semifinal game No. 2 Northern Illinois faces No. 3 Buffalo.

MAC Tournament Semifinals Game 1
Friday, Nov. 11 • 5 p.m.
No. 4 Western Michigan (6-11-2, 2-2-2 MAC) vs. No. 1 Akron (13-3-3, 6-0-0 MAC)
FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field (Akron, Ohio)

MAC Tournament Semifinals Game 2
No. 2 Northern Illinois vs. No. 3 Buffalo • 8 P.M.

"As a staff and as a group of players we all feel very privileged to have the opportunity to coach and play against the defending national champions again," said head coach Stu Riddle. "Its the third time in the last two seasons we will have played Akron in their own stadium so we have experienced the environment and hopefully we will be better for that experience when the whistle blows."

The winners of Friday's semifinal games with meet up in the MAC Championship game Sunday in Akron at 4 p.m. Live stats and live video streaming can be found at the men's soccer tournament central link at, or you can navigate there using the link in the related links firld to the right.

Western Michigan and Akron are the only two schools to qualify for the MAC Tournament in each of the past three seasons.

Western Michigan is making its third straight appearance in the MAC Tournament, qualifying each season under head coach Stu Riddle. The Broncos have scored 26 goals this season and conceded 36. Kai Mendes and Pat Schiffer each have four goals apiece while Jason Grant has tallied three. A total of 11 different players have hit the back of the net. Sophomore Sean Lewis has started the last four games in goal and 10 on the season. He has shared time with junior Matt Murrell, who has made 13 starts.

For the second year in a row, Western Michigan men's soccer players Darren Jones and Kai Mendes were named Second Team All-Mid American Conference. Jones, a defender, has three assists on the season, while Mendes, a forward, leads WMU with 14 points and six assists, also scoring four goals. Western Michigan has produced an all-conference selection in each three seasons under head coach Stu Riddle and multiple selections in the past two.

Western Michigan concluded the regular season with an overall mark of 6-11-2 and finished 2-2-2 in the MAC. WMU posted wins over Bowling Green (2-1) and Buffalo ( 2-1), tied Florida Atlantic (1-1) and Hartwick (4-4) and dropped games to Akron (3-0) and Northern Illinois (3-0). WMU secured the No. 4 seed this past Saturday with its win over Bowling Green, coupled with Northern Illinois' victory over Hartwick.

Western Michigan is 7-15-3 overall in the MAC Tournament, dating back to 1994. The Broncos' lone MAC title came in 2003, beating Marshall in the quarterfinals, Akron in the semifinals and Bowling Green in the championship game. WMU made it to the MAC Championship two on two other occassions, in 2004 and 2010, falling both times to Akron. WMU defeated Bowling Green 1-0 last year in the semifinals and lost to Akron in the championship, 4-0.

The top-seeded Zips will look to capture their fifth-straight MAC Tournament championship this weekend. Akron is also the defending national champion and is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation. The team has scored 41 goals, led by Darren Mattocks' 18, and has allowed just 12 goals against. Two of Akron's three overall losses were against Michigan programs, falling to the University of Michigan, 1-0, and Michigan State, 1-0.

Four freshmen have scored for Western Michigan and three have made their first collegiate goal a game-winner. Jason Grant scored the first goal in a 4-0 win at Loyola, Kyle Farris notched the deciding tally in the 81st minute in a 2-1 victory at Michigan and Jarrett Kersten scored with 38 seconds left as WMU defeated Buffalo 2-1. Fellow freshman Aaron Hebden scored his first career goal in a 3-2 loss at Detroit.

Totaling seven assists in each of his first two campaigns and six in 2011, junior Kai Mendes has 20 career assists, currently ranking fifth in the WMU annuals. Todd Ammon and Jeff Hodgson share the career assist record with 24. Giuliano Teixeira set the single-season assist record with 13 in 2003.

Stu Riddle is in his third season at the Bronco helm and has helped Western Michigan return to the upper echelon of the Mid-American Conference and Great Lakes Region during his short tenure. In two seasons, Riddle has had five players recognized as all-conference, five MAC All-Tournament team selections, three Academic All-MAC honorees and produced an individual NCAA statistical champion in goals per game.