Soccer prepares for senior day, Bennett finale

Team will honor the late Josie Seebeck, who would have been one of the three seniors on the 2015 team

Pennsylvania junior Christen Chiesa kicks the ball at Bennett Soccer Field on September 13, 2015. Calli Morris | Staff Photographer

Prior to its next game at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Central Michigan University soccer will honor its seniors with a pregame ceremony. The team will also recognize another who can’t attend.

Josie Seebeck died at the age of 19 in a car crash that occurred on Interstate 69 in August 2013. Seebeck would have been a senior this year.

Her memory is still felt among players and the coaching staff, and her death continues to have an impact on the CMU soccer family.

“It’s going to be an incredibly special day for our program and an incredibly hard day,” said Head Coach Peter McGahey. “Anytime you celebrate the quality of student athletes who come through your program, it’s always a special day."

McGahey said Seebeck’s absence will be felt as well on Sunday.

“You stack the special nature in terms of recognizing Josie and the impact she had in her short time here,” he said. “ In terms of how many lives she touched here at Central and really across the world, I think it’s going to be an incredibly emotional and powerful day.”

For the CMU players, and especially the upperclassmen, Seebeck’s memory will never fade.

“I remember, coming to Central Michigan, (Seebeck) was one of the people who I was most looking forward to meeting,” senior midfielder Kaeyln Korte said. “That says a lot about the person she was and the memory she’s left behind.”

Korte said she will never forget Seebeck, despite the short amount of time she was with CMU.

Nearly three years after her death, the Chippewas are still grieving in many ways. Sunday’s ceremony will go a long way in helping the team cope with the loss.

“It’s been hard,” Korte said. “There are some days that are better than others, but I know for the girls who were very close with her, she’s never left their side.”

Seebeck’s memory will stir emotion amongst the players, coaches and family. Korte said she focuses on the many positives Seebeck brought to others in her 19 years.

“It will bring back some painful memories, but it will also remind us of the good ones and how good of a person, friend and teammate she was. That’s what will be important to focus on. Almost in a way it’s closure. It’s her senior day too; she’s going to be with us every step of the game.”

For the players, focusing on the on-the-field action will be difficult when considering the impact the pregame ceremony will have on the team.

“It’s a realization that our season is halfway over but, at the same time, it’s not our very last game,” Korte said. “There’s been at least three, four or five seniors and not that there’s just two of us and it’s strange.”

Korte says the size of her team’s senior class has done nothing to change the effect being honored will have.

“The team has done a really good job of making it feel like we’re still seniors and role models,” she said. “That’s how (our team) makes us feel and I appreciate that.”

“We’re such a close-knit group of girls and I would say that this season is the closest we’ve ever been. You could ask anyone (on the team) and they would agree.”

A Bennett send-off

The team will no longer call Bennett Field home after Sunday’s game.

A new athletic complex will be home to CMU’s lacrosse team in addition to the university’s club soccer and lacrosse teams.

An upgrade over Bennett, the $8 million complex will host its fair share of memories in the upcoming decades.

Expenses of a new complex will not take anything away from the memories the outgoing field played a role in creating over the years.

“It is kind of sad because we’ve had so many highs and lows on this field but I think it’s time to move on,” Korte said. “Bennett is a great field but we’re ready for a change of scenery.”

Built in 1999, Bennett Field has hosted hundreds of games in nearly 20 years as the home of the CMU soccer program.

CMU is scheduled to play its first game in the synthetic surface facility by the time they return home to play Miami on Friday, Oct. 2.

“(Winning) would be the ideal plan,” she said. “On senior day there’s always a bit more motivation and inspiration from the significance behind it.”

Last match before MAC season

Even considering the emotional impact senior day will have on McGahey’s team, the task at hand in the Chippewas’ final nonconference match will be no different than before.

CMU’s opponent, the Illinois State Redbirds, are expected to be a change of pace from the No. 24 DePaul Blue Demons, who handed the Chippewas a 1-0 loss a week ago.

“I think moral victories are hard but I also believe in a process,” McGahey said. “As a team we’re putting in a good process. We were in the game (against DePaul).”

“I think, when you’re able to box with that level, that always breeds confidence.”

Illinois State will enter Sunday’s match after playing Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Friday. The Redbirds will bring a sub-.500 record into Mount Pleasant.

“We’ve come back in and we’ve put two good days of practice in so far this week in terms of preparing for Sunday,” McGahey said.

After finishing on Sunday, CMU will have four days off before the Mid-American Conference portion of the schedule begins Sept. 25.

The Chippewas will begin conference play on the road against WMU. It will be the first of two matchups for the rivals this year.