CMU soccer draws with Eastern Michigan in MAC opener

Illinois senior Chesney Wargo heads the ball during the Chippewas game against Bowling Green Oct. 17 at the CMU Soccer Complex.

Nearing the 90-minute mark in its Mid-American Conference opener, Central Michigan soccer (1-5-2, 0-0-1) junior defender Matilda Melin found herself with a chance to secure the win against Eastern Michigan (1-4-3, 0-0-1) on Thursday.

Melin fired a shot on goal, but Eastern Michigan goalkeeper Rebecca Przybylo was there to silence the Chippewas’ final attack in Ypsilanti as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

"We started off a little slow," said head coach Jeremy Groves. "But after they scored, we had a great response from our team, and we're very much on the front foot after that.”

Both teams remained scoreless through the first 27 minutes, but then the Eagles made their move. EMU sophomore forward Jamie Lefebvre found an opening and buried the ball in the net to take a 1-0 lead. 

However, CMU freshman goalkeeper Emma Shingler settled in and finished the half without allowing another goal.

At halftime Groves decided to make some changes in hopes of inspiring his players.

“We made a couple of tactical changes at halftime,” Groves said. “And I thought for the most part in the second half we were by far the better team. Obviously scored a goal and had a couple of really good opportunities to go ahead and win the game. So I was really happy with the response from our players, which we haven't really seen all season, and today we did, so hopefully we can take some confidence from that and kind of move forward with it."

Exiting the locker room, the Chippewas began peppering Przybylo with shots. Eventually breaking through at the 64-minute mark, freshman mid-fielder Lauren Walker netted the tying goal off a corner kick. It was her first career goal.

“(Walker’s) done great ever since she's come into our program," Groves said. "I think for her the reward of all the hard work leading up to this moment, she's been one of our better performers throughout the year, it's a good reward for her to get. And it's good to see her really excited and obviously help our team as well.”

In her first start since suffering a concussion against Wright State, Shingler recorded 11 saves on the day.

"The experience is huge for her," Groves said. "She has been out with injury too, for a couple of games, and she's just kind of working her way back in now. But she made some pretty good saves for us... I think the more games that she can play, the better she's gonna get.”

The Chippewas continue MAC play against Miami (OH) at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Mount Pleasant.

“I think it's gonna pose a different challenge,” Groves said. “But for us, we're at home and hopefully we can come out and do the same thing we did today and we compete at the same energy like we did in the second half today, there were a lot of positives. Hopefully, we can do that right from the get-go on Sunday.”