Soccer one game away from perfection

The soccer team will attempt to make Mid-American Conference history when it plays Eastern Michigan at 3 p.m. Thursday at Scicluna Field in Ypsilanti.

Central (14-3-1, 9-0-1) is still without a loss in MAC play and would become the first MAC team to go through conference play unbeaten.

Five teams have gone through MAC play with one loss, most recently Ball State, who finished 9-1-1 in 2007.

Eastern Michigan knocked CMU out of the MAC tournament last year, 2-0, in the semifinals.

Junior goalkeeper Shay Mannino said that loss is motivating the team to get ready for the game Thursday.

“I just want to come out there and beat them,” she said. “We want to show we are better than last year and we have a lot to prove to them.”

Eastern Michigan is in second place in the MAC, but only one point ahead of third-place Ohio and two points ahead of Akron.

Ohio and Akron play each other Thursday, so only one team could jump Eastern to take second place.

While Central leads the nation with 15 shutouts and has now gone 1,227 minutes and 26 seconds without allowing a goal (the team has yet to allow a goal against a MAC opponent), its defense could be tested by an Eagles offense that ranks third in the MAC in goals during MAC play.

Eagles offense

The Eagles are led offensively by senior Ashley Rodrigues, who scored against Bowling Green on Sunday to overtake CMU’s Laura Twidle for first place in the MAC in both points and goals.

The former first-team All-MAC selection is leading the MAC with five game-winning goals.

Helping Rodrigues out offensively is sophomore Chelsea Detrick. After leading the MAC with 11 goals last year and being named to the MAC All-Freshmen team, Detrick has continued to make her mark on the score sheet with four goals and two assists this year. Three of her four goals have been game-winners.

While EMU has been shutout in four games this year, three of those games were conference games.

Defensively, the Eagles are strong as well, holding MAC opponents to .5 goals per game, second-best in the MAC behind CMU.

Coach Tom Anagnost said part of what makes Eastern such a good team is the patience it shows on the field.

“They are very patient,” he said. “They are an excellent defensive team and outstanding offensive team, and obviously they are in the spot where they are because of their great coaches.”

The Eagles rotate their two junior goalkeepers, Maggie Manville and Monique Budani. Manville and Budani are respectively second and third in the MAC in goals-against average and save percentage.

Eastern also is riding a five-game unbeaten streak.