LeBlanc sets scoring record in victory

carson.lemahieu and carson.lemahieu

After scoring her 39th career goal in Northern’s 4-0 win over Lewis University, Wildcat forward Renee LeBlanc became the ‘Cats all-time leading scorer.

LeBlanc, a senior on the team, scored twice in the game on Monday afternoon, as the Wildcats (3-0) beat Lewis University (2-1). LeBlanc had entered the game with 37 career goals, one behind the all-time mark of 38 previously set by Carolyn Kunas in 2003.

“It’s huge for Renee to break the record, but she has a lot of games left and as a team we have a lot of important games left,” said NMU head coach Matt Granstrand.

LeBlanc tied the record 23:06 in the game when she beat Lewis goaltender Andrea Iossi to score the ‘Cats second goal of the game. She later broke the record when she scored her second goal of the game at the 69:24 mark; senior Amanda Gadomski recorded the assist on LeBlanc’s second goal.

The ‘Cats drew a crowd that overflowed the bleachers and stretched the length of the sidelines for the game, which was the team’s home-opener. The announced attendance was 237.

“It was very nice,” she said, “We had a big crowd today. It was surprising how many people came for a game against a team who wasn’t in our conference.”

The ‘Cats, who finished 16-2 last season, are off to a 3-0 start this season with wins earlier in the season over Bemidji State and the University of Minnesota-Crookston. The ‘Cats are looking to improve on last years season which saw the team finish third in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), and set 16 team records.

In the Wildcat’s first two games of the season the Wildcat’s shutout both of their opponents behind the strong play of the defense and sophomore goaltenders Kara Music and Dana Bush. In Monday’s game the Wildcats defense continued this trend and stifled Lewis’ offense attack leaving their opponents stymied.

The Wildcats’ offense opened the scoring Monday when junior midfielder Brittney Buchanan took advantage of a Lewis turnover in their own box and put the ball in the back of the net for her first goal of the season at 4:25 into the game. Also scoring for the ‘Cats was sophomore defender Joanna Kiilunen.

The Wildcats again opted to split time at goaltender in Monday’s game, with Music starting the game, and Bush taking over for the final 17 minutes. Both goaltenders finished the game with three saves each.

“I liked what I saw. We came out today and didn’t just go through the paces. We’re improving and everyone wants to play, no one wants to come out of the game,” said Granstrand. “We’re really competing with ourselves more than anything. The girls really want to play and it shows in how they’ve been stepping up.”

The ‘Cats are currently ranked seventh in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Great Lakes Region poll. Other GLIAC teams ranked in the top 10 include Grand Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University, and Mercyhurst College. The top four teams in each region, as voted by the NCAA selection committee, make it to the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats are preparing for a game road trip which will begin this weekend when the team travels to Ohio to face Ashland University on Friday and University of Findlay on Sunday. Playing well in these early road games is crucial to the team’s success, said Granstrand.

“It’s always a challenge playing on the road,” said Granstrand, “But we’re as ready as we’re going to be.”