The 2013 season supplied early challenges both on and off the field for Central Michigan soccer, which resulted in a team that bonded and grew together to overcome adversity.
“I think the season was full of adversity as a season would have. You had injuries, coaching changes and a very difficult non-conference schedule. I think the thing that held us together was the care and compassion that our team had for each other and focusing on one game at a time," said head coach Peter McGahey.
Central Michigan introduced McGahey as its fifth head coach in program history on January 10. McGahey accepted the job after a successful five-year stint with Minnesota State, posting a record of 74-21-13 (.755 winning percentage) while leading the Mavericks to four appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Seven months after CMU gained a leader in McGahey, the team tragically lost sophomore midfielder Josie Seebeck in a car accident. The team honored Seebeck throughout the 2013 season by wearing a “JS” patch on its jerseys.
“Josie’s passing was a tragic start to the season. I think the resiliency that the team showed each other in terms of their love and care during that difficult time carried into the season," said McGahey.
Just 21 days after the tragedy, the Chippewas opened up their 2013 season against Detroit in front of a packed crowd at the CMU Soccer Complex, reflective of the support the University community expressed for program. During the 1-1 draw, senior midfielder Kaely Schlosser suffered a season ending injury in the 19th minute. Schlosser led the Chippewas in shots with 73 and scored three goals the previous season.
After the home opener against Detroit, the Chippewas experienced a six-game road swing against top national talent which elapsed nearly a month. CMU traveled to No. 12 West Virginia, Pittsburgh, No. 7 Portland, Washington, Indiana and Ohio State. Four of the six teams played during the road trip appeared in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
During CMU’s matchup at Pittsburgh, the Chippewas lost another scoring threat in senior forward Jennifer Gassman due to a season ending injury. Gassman had scored a goal in the home opener against Detroit and ranks 10th all-time in program history in goals scored with 10.
The Chippewas injuries on the scoring attack were felt as CMU was outscored 15-3 in non-conference play. As the season transitioned to MAC play, so did the Chippewas, as the team embraced conference play as a new season with success by posting an 8-3-0 conference record.
Central Michigan’s defense grew as the season progressed, as senior goalkeeper Grace Labrecque came in to her own as the starter in net for the remainder of the season. Labrecque played a season for the record books, as she recorded seven shutouts which ranks fifth all-time in program history. The All-MAC Second Team selection ended her career ranked third all-time among career shutouts in CMU soccer history with 11.
Labrecque could not have accomplished the level of success she did in net this season without the help of the Chippewa defensive unit, which ranked second in goals allowed average in MAC play. The defense was headlined by senior Estee Outcalt, who started every game and was named to the All-MAC First Team. One of Outcalt’s defining moments of her senior season was when she stopped a sure-fire goal with a header as her heels stood on the goal line. The stop made the difference in CMU’s 1-0 victory over Toledo on October 11.
Sophomore Emily Basten, sophomore Michelle Brownlee, sophomore Taylor Potts and freshman Kaitlin Hoomaian also made key contributions on the defensive end for the Chippewas. Hoomaian was named to the All-MAC Freshman Team.
Senior Tory Kinniard, who was named team captain by her teammates, established a strong midfield for the Chippewas along with sophomore Kaelyn Korte and redshirt freshman ll found the back of the net this season. Junior Emily Cooksey led the Chippewas in shots (38) and shots on goal (19) this season along with being honored with All-MAC Second Team accolades.
Peter McGahey looked for other players to step up to fill the void of losing two top scorers, which is exactly what transpired for the Chippewas during MAC play. Junior Laura Gosse finished first on the team in points and goals with 11 points and five goals. Senior Nicole Samuel, Morgan Wilcoxon and freshman Samantha Maher made impacts, scoring multiple goals. Maher was also named to the All-MAC Freshman team. Samuel delivered the moment of the season, as she lobbed in the game-winning goal in double overtime over Ball State on October 27 on Senior Day.
After the Chippewas posted six shutout wins in its final seven games of the regular season, CMU was awarded the third seed in the 2013 MAC Tournament. Central Michigan hosted sixth-seeded Ball State in the quarterfinals and lost in a heartbreaking 2-1 effort. In fitting fashion, the 2013 season ended on high emotions; the same emotions which melded the 2013 Chippewas into a tight-knit group.
The future looks bright for McGahey's Chippewas, as 10 players who appeared in every game return for next season, including Schlosser and Gassman who will be back for one more year after missing the majority of the 2013 campaign with injuries.