Crunch time

Soccer running out of season, gears up for crucial road games

Greg Cornwell | Staff Photographer Sophomore goalkeeper Maddy Bunnell reaches for a lofted shot by Northern Illinois Sept. 26 at the CMU Soccer Complex. The Chippewas lost in overtime, 2-1.

With only seven games left in the season, Central Michigan University's soccer team has yet to claim a conference victory.

CMU is six points out of a conference tournament spot with seven games remaining. They face Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

“These games are really important,” said sophomore midfielder Eliza Van De Kerkhove. “It may not be a championship game, but for us it is the next game that is the most important.”

The Chippewas are 0-7-1 when playing on the road this season. The team has scored just five goals during that stretch.

The women are ranked 11th out of 12 in the MAC with 10 total goals this season. Senior forward Laura Gosse, the team’s leading scorer, said bad luck has been the Chippewas worst enemy.

“We’ve hit posts, seen goalies make incredible saves and had chances inside the six-yard box that haven’t gone our way,” Gosse said. “All that can get frustrating for the attacking players. But we need to continue to believe that our time will come.”

Their time might come against Bowling Green, which has allowed 26 goals this season. Ten of those scores have come during conference play.

Goalkeeper Lauren Cadel has started 11 matches for the Falcons posting a save percentage of .772. BGSU has lost eight of these matches with Cadel in net.

The women will likely look to load the box on Cadel and the defenders in front of her.

“We don’t want to rely on one or two players to go,” Gosse said. “We want supporting angles from other players.”

Freshman forward Skylar Fleak has four goals this season for BGSU and has converted on 16 percent of her shots.

Fleak likes to connect with another freshman forward, Leah Runkle, who has assisted on three goals this fall.

The Eagles are in the final conference tournament spot and currently sit six points ahead of the Chippewas.

The CMU defense will focus on the offense of EMU senior forwards Angela Vultaggio and Bianca Rossi. They have scored nine of the Eagle’s 17 goals this season including three match winners.

The Chippewas said they are not focusing on the conference standings or the looming pressure facing the team, as the final week of the season approaches.

“If you are trying to hold mud in your hand, the more you press and squeeze, the more the mud will slide out of your hand,” said head coach Peter McGahey. “To play in these pressure moments you have to maintain your composure and consistency as a team.”

EMU is undefeated in the three games it has played at home. In those matches the Eagles are outscoring opposing teams 6-1.

CMU holds an all-time record of 4-11-2 against the EMU including last season’s 3-0 loss in Mount Pleasant.