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2013 EMU women’s soccer preview

August 22, 2013

The EMU soccer team — women’s team, the only varsity team — will begin EMU’s fall sports season when they kick off their regular season tomorrow at Scicluna Field. Seems like a good time to take a look at what lies ahead for them. The following is a modified version of what I wrote last week for Hustle Belt.

It’s impossible to discuss Eastern Michigan University’s women’s soccer without talking about head coach Scott Hall — an alumnus of EMU’s defunct men’s soccer team — who’s been with this program since Day One, 18 years ago. In his 14 seasons as head coach, Hall has amassed a 139-107-40 record. However, Hall’s best seasons came early in his career, after he took over following the death of legendary soccer coach Paul Scicluna, for whom the EMU field is named. Hall was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2001, and under him the team won the MAC regular season title in 1999 and 2003, and the MAC tournament in 1999. However, in more recent seasons, the team has usually finished somewhere in the middle of the conference.

After a difficult 2011 season in which the Eagles struggled to score — they were shut out nine times, and only managed a single goal in six more games — EMU bounced back in 2012. Bianca Rossi, Cara Cutaia, and Angela Vultaggio combined for 21 goals, while goalkeepers Jenna O’Dell and Megan McCabe combined for six shutouts, leading the team to an 11-6-2 finish, good for third in the MAC. Unfortunately, the team was unable to make good in the MAC tournament, losing to #6 Toledo, who they’d previous defeated 3-0, on penalty kicks.

All five of those key players will be back this fall. In fact, the Eagles only had one senior on last year’s team, defender Jessica Thomas, and although she’ll certainly be missed, there’s enough depth on defense to overcome losing her. With so much continuity from their solid 2012 season, this could be the year the Eagles bring another MAC championship back to Ypsilanti.

Date Opponent Location Time
8/23/2013 Detroit Scicluna Field 5 p.m.
8/25/2013 Ohio State Columbus, Ohio 6 p.m.
8/30/2013 Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich. 7:30 p.m.
9/6/2013 Indiana Bloomington, Ind. 6 p.m.
9/8/2013 Butler Indianapolis, Ind. 1 p.m.
9/15/2013 Michigan State Scicluna Field 1 p.m.
9/20/2013 Stetson Scicluna Field 5 p.m.
9/22/2013 Indiana State Scicluna Field 1 p.m.
9/27/2013 * Northern Illinois Scicluna Field 5 p.m.
9/29/2013 * Toledo Scicluna Field 1 p.m.
10/4/2013 * Bowling Green Bowling Green, Ohio 7 p.m.
10/6/2013 * Central Michigan Mount Pleasant, Mich. 1 p.m.
10/11/2013 * Ball State Scicluna Field 4 p.m.
10/13/2013 * Miami Scicluna Field 1 p.m.
10/18/2013 * Ohio Athens, Ohio 4 p.m.
10/20/2013 * Kent State Kent, Ohio 1 p.m.
10/25/2013 * Buffalo Scicluna Field 3 p.m.
10/27/2013 * Akron Scicluna Field 1 p.m.
10/31/2013 * Western Michigan Kalamazoo, Mich. 3 p.m.

 

Simply because of geography and who they are, the key non-conference games will be at Michigan (last meeting was a 1-1 tie through two overtimes in Ann Arbor, to open the 2010 season) and the annual match against Michigan State (last year EMU lost 2-0 in East Lansing). Remember, however, that if the goal is to win the MAC, the goal of non-conference play is simply preparation for MAC play. Key MAC games will probably be against the defending champion Miami RedHawks, at Kent State, and at the defending West Division champion Central Michigan Chippewas. I’m sure many of the players will also have September 29 circled, as they seek revenge for last year’s tournament elimination at the hands of the Rockets.

The pre-season coaches’ poll was released earlier this week, and Miami, who finished 20-3-1 overall and 10-0-1 in the MAC last year, was picked as a heavy favorite to win the conference, though EMU — picked second in the West Division behind Toledo — as well as Ball State, Central Michigan, and Kent State (picked second in the East Division) also got votes.

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