MOUNT PLEASANT - The women's soccer team's quest to reclaim the Mid-American Conference Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth begins Friday at Detroit's Titan Field, and continues Sunday when Evansville comes to Mount Pleasant for the first home match of the season.
At Detroit (Titan Field)
Friday, Aug. 17 - 3 p.m.
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Detroit returns seven starters from a team that amassed a 12-6-2 overall record and finished runner-up in the Horizon League. TopDrawerSoccer.com ranks the Titans 55th overall in its preseason top-64 ranking, and the Horizon League coaches in their preseason polls selected Detroit to finish in a tie for first in the conference.
The top five scorers for Detroit are all returning this season, including junior forward Abby McCollum, who led the Titans with six goals and eight assists for a total of 20 points. College Sports Madness named her the preseason Offensive Player of the Year in its conference preview.
History against Detroit
The Chippewas are 7-2-2 all-time against the Titans of Detroit, who have been a regular fixture on Central Michigan's schedule for all but three seasons since the program's inception in 1998. Most recently, the Chippewas earned a closely-fought 1-0 decision over the Titans in 2011, and are 4-0-1 in their last five meetings dating back to 2006. Current senior Autumn Hawkins scored what ended up being the game-winning goal. The last time the Chippewas visited Detroit in 2010, the two sides fought out a 0-0 draw.
The Purple Aces return eight starters and 10 total players from the 2011 team, which finished the season 4-12-4. After starting 1-11-4, Evansville won three of the next four in shutout fashion to earn a No. 4 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Goalkeeper Chaviel Harrison made a program-record 136 saves in 2011, good for fifth in the nation. Stephanie Thompson scored goals with two assists for 10 points.
History against Evansville
When the Chippewas host Evansville Sunday, it will be just the second meeting all-time between the two programs. In 2011, the Chippewas earned a 3-1 decision at Evansville over the Purple Aces, with goals by Hawkins, junior Estee Outcalt and Emily Cooksey. The Purple Aces took an early 1-0 lead, but the Chippewas responded with three unanswered goals, including two in the second half.
Chippewas Picked Second in West Division in Coaches' Preseason MAC Poll
The Chippewas received 59 points in the preseason MAC poll conducted by the coaches that was released Thursday, surpassed in the West Division only by defending champions Toledo. Western Michigan was picked to finish third in the West with 47 points. The Maroon and Gold also received the second-most preseason votes for MAC Tournament Champion with three, tied with Western Michigan. Toledo garnered five votes, and Ball State one.
|East Division||West Division|
|Kent State (64)||Toledo (69)|
|Miami (52)||Central Michigan (59)|
|Buffalo (51)||Western Michigan (47)|
|Akron (35)||Ball State (33)|
|Ohio (33)||Eastern Michigan (30)|
|Bowling Green (17)||Northern Illinois (14)|
|MAC Tournament Champions|
|Toledo (5 votes)|
|Central Michigan (3)||Western Michigan (3)|
|Ball State (1)|
Chippewas Garner Preseason Honors
College Sports Madness has released its 2012 Preseason All-MAC predictions, headlined by senior goalkeeper Stefanie Turner as the Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Neil Stafford as the Coach of the Year. Turner, senior midfielder Ashley Mejilla and senior defender Bailey Brandon were also named to the preseason first team. Senior forward Laura Twidle, senior midfielder Autumn Hawkins, senior defender Katie Slaughter and junior defender Estee Outcalt were named to the second team.
Strong Opening Weekends
The Chippewas have been strong in the opening weekend of their seasons dating back to 2005, with a 10-1-1 record during that span. The current class of CMU student-athletes has never lost on an opening weekend of the season, not including exhibition games, having gone 5-0 since 2009. The last time the Chippewas did not win their season-opening game was 2005, when they tied Illinois State, 1-1.
Chippewas Protect their Turf
Visiting opponents to the CMU Soccer Complex during the 2011 season had a rough go of things, with only one goal allowed by the Chippewas in eight home games. The only blemish to the home schedule in 2011 was a double-overtime tie, 0-0, with Buffalo. Central Michigan’s current run of dominance at home stretches back to the 2008 season, which was the last time it dropped a home contest. The Chippewas have not suffered a defeat in Mount Pleasant since a 0-1 loss against Toledo on Oct. 19, 2008, and are 30-0-4 at home during that time. The program is 78-27-8 all-time at the CMU Soccer Complex since the inaugural 1998 season.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense
The 2011 Central Michigan defense was not only the best in MAC history, but was among the very best in the nation. The Chippewas allowed only seven goals in the regular season and nine in total to set a new MAC record for fewest allowed in a season, breaking the previous record of 12 held by the 2005 Ball State and 1999 Eastern Michigan teams. The team’s .41 goals allowed per game average was the fourth-best in the country.
Four Chippewas earned spots on the All-MAC first team in 2011 as the largest representation by any team in the conference. The Chippewas will return two of these players to the pitch in 2012 as one of only two MAC teams with two first-team returners. Senior midfielder Ashley Mejilla and senior defender Bailey Brandon will return to lead the Chippewas in 2012, and MAC All-Freshman team goalkeeper Grace Labrecque will also return.
All-time Winningest Senior Class?
With such standouts as Liesel Toth, Chelsi Abbott, Claire Horton and Bethany Allport, the graduating class of 2011 was the winningest in program history with an overall record of 60-17-10 (.747 win percentage), and the 15th best in the country. The 2012 senior class is poised to post an even better career record. Eight Chippewas make up the current senior class, which has a career record of 48-12-7 (.769) and is ranked 13th nationally.
Chippewas Strong on the Field and in the Classroom
The Chippewas continued their tradition of excellence on the pitch and in the classroom in 2011, headlined by earning the highest team grade point average in the country for the seventh consecutive year. The Chippewas posted a cumulative 3.7 team GPA in 2011, more than .05 higher than runner-up Washington University in St. Louis. In addition, three Chippewas - Bethany Allport, Stefanie Turner and Bailey Brandon - earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, and eight Chippewas were named to the Academic All-MAC team. Senior Liesel Toth was named to the NSCAA Scholar All-America Team, and Toth and four others were named to the NSCAA Scholar All-Central Team.