Early goal sends soccer to MAC Semifinals

Sophomore forward Alexis Pelafas, middle, celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal during the game against the University at Buffalo on Oct. 30 at the Soccer / Lacrosse Complex.

Buffalo has been a thorn in the sides of Central Michigan sports over the past few seasons.

The Bulls knocked off the men's basketball team in the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2015 and defeated the women's basketball team in last year's title game. 

Last season the Bulls took down the CMU soccer team in the MAC Quarterfinals on penalty shots. 

CMU's soccer team claimed revenge against Buffalo on Sunday. 

A goal in the third minute by sophomore forward Alexis Pelafas was the only offense CMU needed to get beat the Bulls 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament at the Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.

Pelafas' goal extended her CMU single-season goals record to 16. It was the only shot on goal for the Chippewas in the first half.

With the lead still 1-0 in the 89th minute, senior goalkeeper Kristen Knutson made “the biggest save of the season” as Buffalo forward Moira Petrie made a shot on goal that forced Knutson to dive to her left and fully extend her arms to make the save.

“(Buffalo) was putting a lot of pressure on us,” Knutson said. “My team gave everything they could to the game — at the end especially. There are some moments of our careers where we don’t remember what happened. I can’t really tell you what happened, but I made the save and I’m glad I could help out my team.”

The Chippewas now head to Kent State for the tournament semifinals match on Friday. 

The Golden Flashes defeated Eastern Michigan 2-0 in their quarterfinal match. The winner between CMU and KSU will play the winner of Ball State and Western Michigan on Sunday for the tournament championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“What playoff soccer is about is grittiness, character, determination and poise and composure when you’re trying to close out a game (or) close out a season for another team,” head coach Peter McGahey said. “We got a good goal and created enough chances to get through.”

With two games in the tournament remaining, Knutson said the team’s preseason goals are different this year from last year.

“One goal is for the 2016 team to leave a legacy,” she said. “We had a lot of legacies in this game; we didn’t want to lose at home and we wanted to beat Buffalo on our turf this year. We have a lot more soccer to play, we’re excited to be playing in November and we’re excited to continue this journey. This season is special and this team is special.”

CMU improved to 16-2-3 overall with Saturday's victory. 

The Chippewas tied with the Golden Flashes 1-1 in overtime early this season in Mount Pleasant. The semifinal match is scheduled for 7 p.m.