McGahey wants team to 'create process and identity' early in season

For the first time since 2006, Central Michigan soccer has started its season with seven straight wins, beating Massachusetts 3-1 Sunday.

Sophomore striker Alexis Pelafas scored twice to bring her goal total to nine, making her the nation's leading scorer.

The Chippewas are the only undefeated team left in the Mid-American Conference and have already matched their win total from 2015. The team has the same amount of home wins as they did all of last season.

After starting the season 2-0 on the road, head coach Peter McGahey and his team was energized and ready to play at home.

The team returned to Mount Pleasant the weekend of Aug. 26 for a weekend series against Youngstown State and Kansas State. CMU won both games with a combined score of 5-1 to improve to 4-0 on the season.

CMU's next game was at Michigan State — a team it hadn’t defeated on the road since 2006. That changed Sept. 4.

The Chippewas won the match in East Lansing 2-1 to win five straight games. Pelafas scored the game-deciding goal in the 34th minute to put CMU up 2-0. 

Even with the hot start to the season, McGahey said he wants his team to build off these non-conference games and make a name for themselves before the MAC season begins.

“This early in the season, you have to be very careful not to get ahead of yourself. Even expectation-wise or team-wise,” McGahey said. “I think the performances we have put out relative to this early in the season were good, but you want to make sure you’re creating a process and building an identity as a team.”

It’s important, McGahey said, for the team to identify the process so they know exactly what the team does well consistently. 

The competition is set to increase once MAC play begins Sept. 23. The Chippewas' first two MAC games are on the road against Northern Illinois (3-12-3 in 2015) and rival Western Michigan (14-4-4). They then return home to play against Miami (OH) and the reigning MAC Champions Ball State.

CMU ends its season with three games on the road against Akron, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. Buffalo won the MAC East division a season ago, while Akron and EMU finished below .500.  

Even with the winning results early in the season, McGahey is happy to have acquired CMU’s first sporting victory of the school year.

“I think it’s kind of neat we’re the first (CMU) team to win a game this year, to get the athletic department off on a winning track,” McGahey said. “Those things are pretty neat and are energy-creating pieces. But I think we feel good of what we’ve accomplished so far. We’re going to try and grow that confidence and the belief that they have in each other.”

If CMU wants to go 8-0, it will have to win at home against Oakland (3-3) on Sept. 18.