Unbeaten soccer begins MAC play at NIU, WMU


Freshman midfielder Marle Bringard, left, fights off a defender during the game against Oakland University on Sunday, Sept. 18 at the Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.

After defeating Oakland University on Sunday, moving its record to a program best 8-0, Central Michigan soccer begins Mid-American Conference play at Northern Illinois on Friday.

The Chippewas are 33-18-4 in MAC play since 2011. The Huskies are 15-31-10. The Chippewas are 4-1 in their last five meetings with the Huskies with nine goals scored and three allowed.

"We've got to focus and understand who we are heading into the (MAC) season," said head coach Peter McGahey. "The idea is now we can go out this weekend and grow and mature into our identity as a team. It's also important to keep the reflections on the now. There is so much of the season left to play."

Along with their undefeated record, the Chippewas' sophomore forward, Alexis Pelafas, is tied for second in the nation in goals scored with nine. 

Scouting NIU

Northern Illinois (1-4-2) has scored just two goals all season. Both goals have come from sophomore forward Taylor Sarver. Out of the Huskies' 21 shots on goal, Sarver has nine of them.

Defensively, NIU is led by junior goalkeeper Amy Annala, who has recorded 32 saves this season.  

CMU travels to Kalamazoo on Sunday for an in-state rivalry showdown against Western Michigan. 

"The reality is we've done a good job. The staff has done an excellent job to prepare us for a diversity of teams in the MAC," McGahey said. "They're going to attack and defend us in different ways. Everybody is 0-0 on Friday and I will be anxious to see how this team matches up with the MAC. We are excited and ready to go."

As for injured senior midfielder Samantha Maher, McGahey said she is still "on the ice and ice cream recovery plan" and doesn't know if she will play this weekend. 

Scouting WMU

The Broncos (6-2) are led by senior forward Mackenzie Barber, who has three goals and one assist in eight games in 2016. Senior forward Candice Uhl and junior Kendall Juhnke are tied for second on the team in goals scored with two each.

In net for the Broncos is redshirt junior Stephanie Heber. Through eight games, Heber has allowed 10 goals and recorded 26 saves. She has given up at least two goals in three of her eight starts.

Every meeting between CMU and WMU since 2011 has been decided by a 1-0 score. The Broncos have won four of the last five contests against the Chippewas. The last time CMU beat the Broncos was in 2014.

"By the time Sunday comes, eight of our 11 games will have been on the road," McGahey said. "I really believe this team's best soccer is still coming. Best soccer offensively and defensively — it's coming."

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday in DeKalb and 1 p.m. Sunday in Kalamazoo.