Soccer readies for weekend road matches, MAC play

Wheaton Illinois freshman Alexis Pelafas struggles with DePaul senior Brianna Rice for the ball at Bennett Soccer Field on September 13, 2015. Calli Morris | Staff Photographer

With the nonconference season behind them, Central Michigan University soccer has a new challenge in facing familiar opponents from the Mid-American Conference.

The Chippewas will take on Western Michigan at 4 p.m. Friday in Kalamazoo and Northern Illinois at 2 p.m. Sunday in DeKalb, Illinois.

Both teams were contenders in last season’s MAC Championship, with the Huskies falling to the Broncos in the semifinals and Western Michigan losing 1-0 to Buffalo in the final.

“I think the MAC is going to be good again,” said Head Coach Peter McGahey. “The conference is going to be tight, points are going to matter. You’re going to see another season of having every point matter.”

At 1-5-1, McGahey said his team’s defense is not giving away easy goals and CMU can work to prevent such things from happening in the future.

“Always at this time of year, we’re trying to find some rhythm,” he said. “The defense comes in first and then you have to build your attack from there."

Throughout the eight games played this year, the Chippewas have scored eight goals and surrendered 12.

The Chippewas have 11 games left on their schedule, with six of those MAC contests at home in the new CMU soccer/lacrosse stadium.

CMU’s rivalry with WMU is well-noted, but the context of the rivalry is usually between the yard lines on the gridiron and not between the goals on the soccer pitch.

McGahey said the key in starting the MAC season against a talented team like the Broncos is to take points away.

“No one is bigger than anyone else,” McGahey said. “Western happens to be first up and it happens to have a lot of significance, so we’ll embrace the significance, go out and try to do the best we can and get a result on Friday.”

The CMU coaching staff doesn’t think the team has any sense of false enthusiasm at this point in the season.

“I think there’s a sincerity in terms of what the team wants to discover and I think that puts us in a good place,” McGahey said.