Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Central Michigan soccer team will open the 2018 season with a nonconference game at Michigan State on Aug. 11.
The match kicks off a 20-game slate that includes three dates with Big Ten teams – they will face Michigan and Iowa in addition to Michigan State -- and one with Notre Dame, which plays in the ACC.
The Chippewas will also play nonconference games with Southern Utah, Detroit, Northern Iowa, Oakland and Illinois-Chicago before facing Ohio in their Mid-American Conference opener on Sept. 21.
The game with Ohio comes in the midst of a four-game homestand that begins on Sept. 9 and concludes on Sept. 23 with a game against defending MAC regular-season champion Kent State.
In addition to the Bobcats and Golden Flashes, the Chippewas will play MAC foes Bowling Green, Ball State and Miami (Ohio) at home, and will play league matches at Buffalo, Akron, Toledo, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan.
Toledo is the defending MAC Tournament champion.
The game at Notre Dame, scheduled for Aug. 16, will be a good test for CMU. The Fighting Irish finished the 2017 season at 10-7-5, with an RPI rating of 17, and Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
Two other Chippewa opponents – Michigan (65), Northern Iowa (88) -- finished in the top 100 in RPI last season and another, Iowa, was just outside at 104. Northern Iowa finished runner-up in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last season.
“The schedule provides a diversity of opponents and you’re playing, early, potentially a top-15 team (Notre Dame),” said Peter McGahey, who is entering his sixth season in charge of the Chippewa program. “To play Notre Dame is great and to play two Big Ten teams on the road is fantastic and then we balance it out with some other people who are really performing well in their conference.
“It gives us an opportunity to have both the variety of competition and a diversity of experiences that are required to prepare us really well for the MAC season.”
It marks the first time the Chippewas have met Northern Iowa and Illinois-Chicago, and just the second time they have played Notre Dame. CMU last played the Irish in 2009.