Consistency key for CMU soccer to advance in MAC Tournament

Head coach Peter McGahey has often said there are three parts to a soccer season: The start, the end and the post season. 

For all three parts of the 2016 season, McGahey has wanted to see the same constant effort from his team — no matter what part of the season it is.

The Chippewas' soccer team started the third phase of the season with a 1-0 win against Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament Quarterfinal on Sunday. McGahey's team displayed a lot of the characteristics it has all season long while earning the victory and advancing to the tournament semifinals.

“What we've talked about a lot as being us — having the identity that we have been showing since August,” McGahey said after his team's win Sunday. “That has an aggression, an ability to go forward, an attacking spirit. These things are all keys to success.”

The Chippewas' constant aggressive, attacking spirit is the reason this team has had success in 2016. All season long, the team has stayed consistent to win games. Whether it was getting off to a hot start to the season, or finding a way to pull out late wins and fight through seven overtime matches down the stretch, the Chippewas have been consistent.

CMU started the the season 9-0 winning most of those games with ease and not having to look for key late game winning or tying goals. However, after the Chippewas' lost their first game of the season to Northern Illinois, this team had to really show its perseverance and strength.

In the team's final 10 games of the season, seven of them went to overtime. In six out of the seven games, it needed double overtime to be finished. That adds up to 130 extra minutes of playing time, yet this team never backed down from a challenge.

The team went 6-1-3 overall in these final ten games, and in every one of them it was clear this team believed in each other, and was going to grind it out until the final whistle, regardless of the result.

 CMU would not have a record of 15-2-3 overall and 6-2-3 in conference without finding a way to score late goals and find ways to tie or win games late in the season. They've had to use their grit to stay in the race for the MAC West Division title.

On Sunday, CMU had to show that same kind of consistency and grit to hold off the Bulls.

Sophomore forward Alexis Pelafas, who has been an outstanding playmaker for CMU all season, scored her 16th goal of the year in the third minute of the game to give CMU the lead. 

The team had to lock down defensively and show patience for the other 87 minutes to hang on to the one-goal lead and avoid another overtime period.

The entire game, CMU showed its determination to win the MAC Tournament and achieve the goal it set at the beginning of the season.

Out of all the big moments during the game, none were bigger than the diving save senior goal keeper Kristen Knutson made. She dove to her left in the final minute and made the save completely outstretched.

For Knutson, the team has made meaningful plays like her's all season long to get to where it is right now — one game away from competing for the MAC Tournament Championship.

“This team has more composure," Knutson said. "I think that can mess up other teams, because they can just see how calm we are. Even when I say (composure) it just allows me to breathe and realize this team can do anything it wants.”

The Chippewas will travel to Kent, Ohio to take on second-seeded Kent State in the semifinals. CMU tied with the Golden Flashes 1-1 in double overtime earlier this season.

In order to win the game Friday, CMU needs to come out strong and not let a solid team like Kent State get ahead early. Although, the Chippewas have been down before.

But in the end, CMU will always have a chance. It’s all about being consistent.