Soccer improves to 5-0 with 2-1 victory over Michigan State

The Central Michigan soccer team accomplished two things on Sunday it hadn’t done in ten years.

For the first time since 2006, the Chippewas have started a season 5-0 and did so by winning in East Lansing against in-state rival Michigan State.

CMU defeated the Spartans 2-1 at the DeMartin Soccer Complex, despite a late rally by MSU.

“I’m just very proud of the effort and the performance the team put out today, and I thought we were rewarded for our efforts,” said head coach Peter McGahey.

Leading 2-0 in the 60th minute, the Spartans drew within a goal after a shot by Marisa Oleksiak squeaked by CMU goaltender Kristen Knutson.

With their lead cut in half, McGahey decided to go with a defensive minded lineup and took out sophomore and leading scorer Lexi Pelafas for mid-fielder Meghan Sweeney.

The move paid off as the Chippewas were able to hold MSU off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest. Knuston finished the game with three saves on four shots on goal.

In the fifth minute of a scoreless contest, junior Jamie Rademacher scored off a header for her first goal of the season to give CMU the early advantage. 

The Chippewas have scored first in every game this season, something head coach Peter McGahey believes is crucial.

“I think the best part of our team is that we are finding goals in a variety. We are finding ways to score goals in a method that’s sort of becoming our identity as a team,” he said. “When you can be confident that you can score, it allows you to settle into the game in a really good way.”

Leading 1-0 in the 34th minute, Pelafas scored on a header of her own from senior Samantha Maher to extend the lead to 2-0, which ended up being the difference. 

Pelafas is once again tied for the NCAA lead in goals (seven) with Addie Forbus of Ole Miss. Pelafas was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week two weeks ago and was nominated again last week.

Central Michigan remains the only undefeated team in the MAC. The Chippewas head to Dartmouth on Friday and Massachusetts on Sunday.

McGahey said his squad will continue to only focus on the team in front of them.

“Our message is just take it one game at a time. Play our game and try to win the day,” he said.

CMU started the 2006 season 7-0 and finished 13-4-2, falling to Kent State in the MAC championship game.