UIC scores late goal to spoil soccer's Senior Day

Sophomore defender Maria Kaschalk approaches a UIC midfielder on Sept. 16 at the Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.

Even though the Central Michigan soccer seniors were honored, it was a sophomore for the University of Illinois-Chicago that spoiled the Senior Day festivities.

In the 77th minute, Emily Valentine broke a scoreless tie with the game winning goal from the right side of the net. The final was 1-0.

“Lots of highs and lows today,” said head coach Peter McGahey. “A great celebration before the game with four fantastic seniors who meant the world to our program. For a lot of stretches, we put on a dominating performance where we put UIC under a lot of pressure and created some chances. 

“Unfortunately, our chance didn’t come today and they were able to take off with their chance.”

The Chippewas out-shot the Flames 14-2, but were unable to find the back of the net. UIC freshman goalie Haley Leanna made five saves in the game to earn a shutout.

Game Summary

The Chippewas had three shots on goal early while they held the Flames without an attempt, but neither team could score through the first 25 minutes of the first half.

Senior Lexi Pelafas broke free nearing the 27th minute of the first half, but she was called for offsides before she could get a shot away on what would’ve been a one-on-one scoring chance.

“We have to let today go and create more opportunities to score,” Pelafas said. “The more opportunities we get, the more the ball will go in the goal. We need to need to get the ball in the net in practice and then it will happen in the games.”

By halftime, CMU managed to get six shots on goal but couldn’t find the back of the net in a scoreless game.

Senior Madison Costner then had a chance to score but kicked it right into the chest of Leanna to keep the game scoreless in 53rd minute.

“Sometimes, it doesn’t always go your way in soccer plain and simple,” Costner said. “We need to take pride in the chances we do have and keep moving forward.”

The Chippewas continued to generate scoring chances but couldn’t get a goal. In the end, Valentines goal was all the Flames needed for the victory.

Senior Day

Before the game began, Pelafas, Mary Carlson, Shannon Magnan and Madison Costner were all honored for the Chippewas Senior Day. 

To Pelafas, this group of seniors is always a good time on or off the field.

“We bring the energy to the team,” Pelafas said. “The good thing about us is from freshman year to now, we’ve been sisters on and off the field. I think when we come together we connect the most and have a lot of energy off the field and it shows on the field.”

Costner agreed with Pelafas that this group has a positive energy together.

“We’re able to bring the team together and will help them bounce back,” Costner said. “I think we have a good chemistry between us and will build from (a loss) like this.”

Magnan said she believes this class has a lot of talent that works well together.

“We’ve always seen that we can compete well together,” Magnan said. “Once that bleeds into the rest of the underclassmen on this team I think we will be really good. One thing I can say about us seniors is, we always bring it.”

Carlson said they always look to each other for solutions to problems in games.

“We are really good at holding each other accountable and in return a lot of people look up to that,” Carlson said. “I think we are all really good leaders on this team and it started freshman year to where we are now, I think it says a lot about us.”

McGahey said every group of seniors he has is special and he has enjoyed watching the 2018 class grow.

"I think their personal and playing transformation has been really big," McGahey said. "This group has meant a lot to us from a program standpoint."

What’s Next

The Chippewas will look to bounce back in the Mid-American Conference opener at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 against Ohio from the CMU Soccer Complex