2013 MAC Soccer Season Preview: Eastern Michigan Eagles

USA TODAY Sports

The EMU soccer team hope experience and depth will allow them to build on their 2012 success and contend for a MAC championship this fall.

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. Biana 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
8/14/2013 Illinois State (Exhibition) Scicluna Field 3 p.m.
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). 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.

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