DETROIT - Junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser netted the game-winning goal in the 88th minute as Central Michigan grinded out a 1-0 win over Detroit in its season opener on Friday.
The Chippewas (1-0-0) earned their fifth win in the past six games against the Titans (0-1-0), who were ranked 55th in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Tournament 64 rankings, dating back to 2006, with the other result being a tie.
“We grinded out a result, and that’s always a positive,” head coach Neil Stafford said. “Detroit is always a difficult opponent, and to see our team have that kind of fortitude and drive to grind out a result, I like seeing that.”
Schlosser’s goal, assisted by junior Jennifer Gassman, came on a run up the middle of the field, and was fired from just inside 18 yards away.
The late-game drama was not complete following Schlosser’s goal, however. A Detroit shot by Nina Carter slipped just right of goal as the clock counted down to zero, sealing the victory for the Chippewas at the final possible moment.
Schlosser led the team in shots in 2011, but did not record a goal - something she took care of this season in the first 90 minutes of action.
“It’s definitely exciting, and it’s something new because I really haven’t scored in a while,” Schlosser said. “It was really good to score and it gets me excited for the rest of the weekend and our upcoming games.”
Offensive chances were at a premium in the first half, as the two teams combined for just nine shots, but the pace of the game picked up as the Chippewas fired 12 shots in the second half, allowing just two.
“To be fair, Detroit had some great opportunities too,” Stafford said. “I was really happy with how we spread out the midfield and really created some serious gaps, and that ultimately led to the goal with Kaely Schlosser getting some room and space to go at people.”
Schlosser accounted for six of the Chippewas' 17 shots, five of which came in the second half as the midfield created more open spaces for her and her teammates to advance. It was only a matter of time before Schlosser broke through for a goal, after firing a shot from outside the penalty box into the crossbar just moments earlier.
Senior defender Katie Slaughter took three shots, while Gassman, senior forward Laura Twidle and junior Tory Kinniard accounted for two apiece. One of Slaughter’s shots, a high-arced shot from between the penalty area and midfield, appeared to have cleared the Detroit goalkeeper’s head and found the back of the net, but it was revealed that it instead went behind the net.
Senior Stefanie Turner recorded her fifth career shutout, and made three saves, including a save with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half off a Detroit set piece to preserve a halftime tie.
The Chippewas won their season-opening match for the seventh consecutive season, dating back to 2005 when they tied Illinois State, 1-1. The current class of Chippewas seniors run their career record on opening-weekend games to 6-0, and will have a chance to extend it to 7-0 when they face Evansville at home on Sunday.
Sunday’s match against Evansville at the CMU Soccer Complex begins at 1 p.m. and is the first home game of the season for the Chippewas.