Three seasons, two shoes: Soccer forward Lexi Pelafas finds record-breaking success in a single pair of cleats

Junior forward Lexi Pelafas brings the ball upfield for a potential score on Sept. 29 at the CMU Soccer Complex.

In the first three years of her career, Lexi Pelafas has achieved what no other Central Michigan soccer player has before her.

Pelafas holds the record for most goals scored in a single season, and with 13 goals in 2017, the record for most career goals. 

As a junior, Pelafas has already cemented herself as one of the most accomplished players in program history. 

She did it all in one pair of shoes.

“I hate changing cleats,” Pelafas said. “I like to keep things as a routine.”

The Wheaton, Illinois native has kept that routine for almost three full seasons, and according to Pelafas, all 33 of her career goals have come from one pair.

Upon coming to Mount Pleasant, Pelafas’ go-to brand of soccer cleats had been Nike, however given Central Michigan’s affiliation with Adidas, a switch over was necessary. 

After her initial pair of Adidas shoes quickly wore out in her rookie year, she received the pair that would stick with her for the following two seasons.

“When I wore my first cleats for the first couple of games of the (freshman) season, I actually didn’t score,” Pelafas said. “Once I was cleared to not wear an ankle brace, the next game I wore the new shoes and scored.”

As with most shoes, the condition begins to dwindle as time passes, and being an NCAA Division I college soccer player, the shoes are beginning to show signs of serious wear. 

“Both of them have tape now at the toes because they do have holes in them,” Pelafas said.

Her superstition has gone so far athletic trainers now assist her in making sure the cleats have enough tape and glue to hold them together for competition and practice.

Pelafas’ ability to play in the same shoes for so long at such an elite level has some of her teammates stunned, as they change cleats far more frequently.

“She runs an insane amount during every game,” said senior Lauren Sherry. “The fact that hers are still going strong, I don’t understand it.”

Pelafas has gotten used to regular torment about her shoes from teammates and even head coach Coach Peter McGahey.

“They’re always like, ‘why do you still wear those?’ I get that all the time,” Pelafas said. “Peter always asks if I’ve looked up on google how to keep your shoes forever.”

While McGahey may joke from time to time, he stressed that if the cleats aren’t getting in the way of games or practice, he has no issues.

“I think as coaches, we can really get caught up in lots of stuff,” McGahey said. “As long as the shoes are holding her feet in and she’s getting the job done, I’m OK.”

With her senior year fast approaching, the big question for 2018 is whether or not this 33-goal pair of shoes will make one final appearance on the feet of Pelafas.

“It’s really going to depend on if they last that long,” Pelafas said. “You know, I want to. They just make me feel comfortable.”