Soccer has foundation built for seasons to come

Greg Cornwell | Staff Photographer Junior midfielder Samantha Maher leaps to control the ball Sunday afternoon at the CMU Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium. The Chippewas lost to the Illinois State Redbirds, 1-0, in overtime.

A sturdy keel of any boat is the most crucial part to building a great ship.

It’s the bottom-most beam, which the entire ship is constructed around, that gives he ship its structural strength.

Head Soccer Coach Peter McGahey said his 2015 team was just that — a sturdy base for things to come.

“I think you’re going to look back and see this as a foundational year for a lot of positive things to come in the future for this team to go through,” McGahey said.

The youthful Chippewas finished the season 6-10-3, going 5-5-1 in Mid-American Conference play and falling to Buffalo in the first round of the MAC Tournament as the No. 6 seed.

With only nine upperclassmen on the 27 player roster and just two players departing — seniors Kaelyn Korte and Maddie Bunnell, who is not taking her fifth year of eligibility — the Chippewas expect to return an experienced, battle-tested lineup in 2016.

This includes All-MAC Second Team honoree junior forward Eliza Van de Kerkhove and four freshmen All-MAC honorees — defender Mary Carlson, forward Alexis Pelafas, forward Madison Pogarch and goalkeeper Zoie Reed.

McGahey said the team transformed from a largely inexperienced group at the beginning of August, into a “wile old veteran team” before his eyes.

The Chippewas were tested by adversity, considering they won two of their first 10 games of the season, defeating Valparaiso and Youngstown State.

“You’re always trying to find what’s going to be the recipe for this team’s success,” McGahey said. “I think that’s a place where looking forward to the future, we’re going to have a better handle on those things. They’ll come faster as we continue to matriculate players into the process.”

After the rocky 2-6-2 start, the Chippewas entered conference play coming off a four-game losing streak, but went on to win or tie six of their remaining 10 regular season games, earning them a trip to the MAC Tournament — McGahey’s second tournament appearance in three years as head coach.

The Chippewas drew the 11-7-3 Buffalo Bulls, who’d previously shut out the Chippewas, 3-0, on Oct. 18 in UB Stadium.

The second game wasn’t as easy for the Bulls, however, as Central Michigan’s Alexis Pelefas scored an equalizer with one second to go in the game to lock the score, 2-2.

It took penalty kicks after a pair of overtimes for the No. 3 Bulls to send the Chippewas into the offseason. One Central Michigan shooter of the four, Korte, would score in penalty kicks.

Before the penalty-kick round began, Reed was replaced with junior goalkeeper Maddy Bunnell, who allowed three penalty kick goals in the loss.

Statistical Leaders

PointsAlexis Pelafas and Samantha Maher8
GoalsAlexis Pelafas4
AssistsMadison Pogarch3
ShotsEliza Van de Kerkhove39
Shots on goalEliza Van de Kerkhove22
SavesZoie Reed71
Eliza Van de Kerkhove
and Kaelyn Korte

“(Bunnell coming in) had always been the plan,” he said. “If we had gotten that far, then we were going to utilize Maddy’s strengths on penalties to try to take us through the penalty kick shootout. That was by design.”

Freshman forward Adriana Ramon said the season-ending loss hurt not just because the season was over, but because she felt the team was finally hitting its stride.

“I think the best way to describe our season is progression,” said the Dearborn Heights native. “Every day we worked to get a little better and that showed in our games. Anyone could tell that everyone was working hard every single day in practice. The shootout loss was so disappointing because all our hard work showed in that last game.” 


About Andrew Surma

Central Michigan Life Sports Editor

Central Michigan Life Editor in Chief (Summer 2016)

Central ...

View Posts by Andrew Surma →