Perhaps the only thing we can say with certainty about the women’s soccer team is that it’s unpredictable.
The objective is to win the Mid-American Conference regular season title. That will require a great deal of the one quality the Chippewas have been glaringly lacking: Consistency.
After picking up their first two wins of the season in back-to-back fashion as they opened up MAC play two weekends ago, the women had started their proverbial “second season” off on their dominant goal-scoring foot.
The team came home last weekend and dropped games against WMU and EMU, losing every home game it has played this year with the exception of a 2-2 draw with Detroit in the season opener.
Head coach Peter McGahey appeared uncharacteristically frazzled following a 3-0 loss to Eastern Michigan in which the Chippewas put just two shots on goal.
His explanations for CMU’s struggles have gone from optimistic and vague in the early going to unswerving and frank, as conference play has started. McGahey has long talked of the rough schedule and key injuries CMU has encountered this season, keeping everything in perspective.
For the first seven games, we bought it. We understood: These are a unique set of circumstances. Success was not going to be handed to the Chippewas, nor were they going to roll over.
This team has proven it can win in the MAC.
Perhaps it is the pressure of playing at home. Only 18 of the 48 shots the Chippewas have put on goal this season have come in four home games.
Does that mean the women are more than two-and-a-half times better offensively on the road then they are at home? Sometimes the numbers are a little stunning.
And what about that “stellar defense” that was only getting scored on during the Chippewas 0-7-1 start the year because of the offensive quality of the squad’s first seven opponents?
When Central Michigan hosted a pair of MAC games last weekend, that stifling defense went missing.
McGahey said the Chippewas will “find out” where they are at mentally this week. Two more home MAC games are on the schedule this weekend.
With the heart of the conference schedule on the horizon, the Chippewas are running out of time for meshing, gelling, getting to know each other and finding out what they are capable of.
Statistically, the Chippewas are still in the hunt for a MAC title. But dropping both games this weekend might drop them out of the race, emotionally, for good.