Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Summer's over, at least for the Central Michigan soccer team.
The Chippewas are scheduled to play an exhibition game at Michigan State on Saturday (7 p.m.) and then open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 16 (7 p.m.) at Notre Dame. CMU's home opener is Sunday, Aug. 19 (1 p.m.) against Southern Utah.
The Chippewas, who finished 8-8-3 including 3-6-2 in the Mid-American Conference in 2017, play eight nonconference games prior to the league opener at home on Sept. 21 against Ohio. Among those eight nonleague opponents are Iowa and Michigan.
Peter McGahey is entering his sixth season as the Chippewas' coach. He said Saturday's match at Michigan State, which went 6-11-1 a year ago, is a good measuring stick for the Chippewas.
"It's preseason and we are building toward the regular season, we are building to prepare for the MAC season," McGahey said. "It's a gradual process so I'm just excited for us to go out and compete against someone else."
Chippewa goalkeeper Zoie Reed, a senior, injured her Achilles heel during preseason workouts and is out indefinitely.
"In the journey of the season, we have the resilience and the character and the leadership in our team to be able to overcome those sorts of things," McGahey said. "The reality is Zoie's injury is shocking, hard, gut wrenching in fact. ... A shock to the system."
McGahey will choose one of three options to replace Reed: Sophomore Morgan Britain and redshirt freshmen Ashley Rose and Brianna Wallbridge. Britain played in two matches last season, logging just over 30 minutes and posting two saves.
"We are not uneasy about the talent or the character of the women who are in the goalkeeping room," McGahey said.
ATOP THE CHARTS
Lexi Pelafas enters her senior year as CMU's leader in career goals (33) and points (71) after scoring a MAC-high 13 goals last season. She is a two-time All-MAC First Team selection.
"I think everyone understands and recognizes what Lexi is going to have sort of the final opportunity to continue to write a legacy individually," McGahey said. "But I think the thing that has struck me about her is she's come back this season and there is a very real commitment and belief in the team success and I think that's something that I really appreciate.
"As we look at the rest of the team now I think you have some younger players who are ready to emerge and bust out on the scene."
Defender Mary Carlson and forward/mid Shannon Magnan, both seniors, are serving as the Chippewa captains.
"I like the leadership so much -- they are just like one person," McGahey said. "They have both really stepped up as vocal leaders and they both lead by example."
LET THE BATTLE COMMENCE
McGahey said his roster is reflective of the kind of player he likes: gritty.
"I think grit is now here and I think it's ingrained in terms of the players that now choose to come participate in our soccer family, and the understanding about what's required when we play," he said. "Grit is resilience and persistence and that takes time to understand and to have it at a championship level. This team is persistent and I think this team will compete."