Sophomore midfielder nets first career goal as Chippewas down Kent State 2-1

Sophomore midfielder Natalie Belsito throws the ball back into play during the second half against Kent State on Sept. 23 at the CMU Soccer Complex.

Holding possession of the ball for majority of the second half, Central Michigan soccer needed  one of its shots on goal to break the 1-1 tie.

Sophomore midfielder Natlaie Belsito did just that for the first time in her career.

Freshman midfielder Chesney Wargo rushed up the left side and hit Belsito on a lead pass right in front of the net for goal that trickled in off the end of her foot and into the net. It was the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory for CMU (4-6, 2-0 MAC) over Kent State (4-5-1, 0-2) to remain undefeated in Mid-American Conference play. 

“It felt amazing, I can’t even it,” Belsito said. “It’s amazing to play with this group of girls that are so talented and they want everything they can get. It feels incredible (to score) and we want to do it big this year and we are on the way to that.”

The Chippewas got a quick break downfield led by senior forward Lexi Pelafas who found Shannon Magnan in front of the net for a tap in goal in the 19th minute. CMU led 1-0 after netting its first shot.

“I was coming in with guns blazing and I just poked it and didn’t really realize it went in the goal,” Magnan said. “I’m just glad it worked out.”

While each team was able to produce shots, neither could score following Magnan’s goal early in the first half. 

KSU goalie Faith O’Neill made three saves to open the second half to keep the Golden Flashes within striking distance, still down 1-0.

While CMU controlled most of the offense to open the second half, KSU took advantage of a penalty shot. The Golden Flashes sophomore midfielder Vital Kats scored from right in front to even the game at one goal apiece in the 53rd minute.

CMU didn’t stop putting on pressure. They were rewarded with Belsito’s goal in the 68th minute and took that lead to the end of the game.

Head coach Peter McGahey said he was ecstatic for Belsito’s first-career goal.

“I think it’s a place where someone like (Belsito) has really bought into the idea that this is the second season, the MAC season,” McGahey said. “Her minutes expanded this week based off her training from the past several weeks. It was a good reward for her to get the game-winner today.” 

The Chippewas out-shot the Golden Flashes 13-11 and tallied six corner kicks compared to KSU’s two corner kicks.

The Chippewas will head back on the road for a weekend set of road games starting with Buffalo at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 in Buffalo, New York. CMU will finish with Akron at 1 p.m. on Sept. 30.

“Akron and Buffalo are two unique places so the MAC intensity that you feel right now will be matched next weekend when we go away from home,” McGahey said. “Buffalo is a tough place to play and it’s one of the few places we play inside the football stadium and we will have to match the intensity their fans bring.”