NMU soccer hosts exhibition tourney at dome

curt.kemp

The NMU soccer team continued its spring training last weekend as they hosted a weekend tournament at the Superior Dome against four teams.

The soccer team competed against Michigan Tech, Northwood, Scotia – a club team from Canada, an NMU soccer alumni team and the NMU women’s club team.

The tournament was unscored and NMU head coach Matt Granstrand said the team was mainly focused on trying new things and working on developing players.

“We don’t keep stats,” Granstrand said. “If we did, we did really well, but we’re not interested in that. I mean, if it was a tournament we probably would have won it. But for us it’s just to see where we are.”

The soccer team rotated different players throughout the game, hoping that the younger players would gain experience. Granstrand added that next year’s team would be mainly juniors and seniors – 12 of 21 roster spots.

“We’re pleased,” he said. “We’re an upperclassmen team now, we’re an older team and we’ve got a lot of returners, so we’re just trying to fine tune things.”

The soccer team finished the 2007 season with a 12-5-2?record, including a 3-3-2 record in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). NMU finished in sixth place in the conference, behind – in order – Grand Valley, Mercyhurst, Findlay, Saginaw Valley and Ferris.

Superstar senior Renee LeBlanc led the team in scoring with nine goals. The ‘Cats also lost seniors Amanda Gadomski, Megan Ford and Jami Bebee.

The top returning scorer for the Wildcats in 2008 will be sophomore Kari Buckel, who picked up six goals in 2007. Of Buckel’s six goals, two were game winners.

In goal, the Wildcats will sport junior Kara Music for the third year in a row. Music played in 18 games last season and had a goals against average of 0.9 last season.

Granstrand said he hopes the spring experience in this tournament will help the team for the following season — a season where the team is hopeful to make the NCAA tournament.

“Our goal every year is to make the national championship,” he said. “When I first came here, only four (teams) made it to the playoffs in each region. Now it’s six and six is easier — it’s still difficult, but it’s easier than four.”

Included on the 2008 women’s soccer team will be six new faces-three recruited freshman and three walk-ons. The recruits are Jessica Baker (goalie), Brittany Buckingham (forward) and Missy Mohr (defender). Granstrand said some of the six new players will be fighting for starting positions.

“I like the players who are coming,” he said. “They will push the girls who are already here. My job is to try to find better players; their job is to keep working hard and playing the spot and not finding someone who can take their spot.”

The first regular season home game for the Wildcats is a tournament is August 30-31. This event brings Bemidji State, Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State to NMU.