The Northern Michigan University soccer team hit the road and defeated the University of Findlay 3-2 in double overtime on Friday and tied Tiffin University at one goal apiece on Sunday.
Head coach Matt Granstrand said he was pleased with his team’s play, but not completely satisfied.
“We would obviously like the win, but we will take a win and tie on a road trip every time,” Granstrand said.
The road trip through Northern Ohio started against the Oilers of Findlay. NMU was down early, after Findlay’s Amanda Bachmayer scored in minute 17.
In the second half, the Wildcats faced a bigger problem, as Findlay’s Ashley Ruz’s goal left NMU with only 24 minutes to score two goals.
Northern stepped up to the challenge. Sophomore forward Dana Stephens intercepted a pass and scored with 16 minutes to go.
A corner kick nine minutes later set up the second regulation goal for NMU, as defender Celia Sturos notched the tally.
After an uneventful first overtime, the Wildcats came on the attack with two quick shots in the second overtime period. Defender Meghan Sarna drove the ball toward the goal line when she passed the ball to a wide open Abbie Debiak for the decisive score.
“Scoring the game winning goal was a great feeling,” Debiak said. “Sarna played a great ball across the mouth of the goal. I don’t know where my defender was, but I just hoped I didn’t mess up a great opportunity.”
Granstrand said the victory was the best team play of the season.
“We came back from two goals down on the road, which shows our determination and maturity,” he explained.
The road trip continued to Tiffin on Sunday. GLIAC newcomer Tiffin beat NMU earlier this year, 1-0 in Marquette. The Dragons have brought a more physical style of play with them to the conference.
After being outshot 5-1 in the first half and fouled 11 times, the Wildcats were able to find the back of the net when Sarna capitalized on a free kick 20 yards out.
“There was a wind, but I managed to hit it top left corner,” Sarna said. “It was a pretty lucky goal.”
NMU held the lead until nine minutes to go when Tiffin defender Kirsten White scored off of a corner kick.
Neither team scored again.
“The Tiffin game was a physical matchup but we have gotten used to it after all the physical games this year,” Granstrand said.
The Wildcats (10-8-1, 6-6-1 GLIAC) now have one more regular season game left, on the road against Ashland on Saturday.
The Eagles (7-12, 4-9 GLIAC) defeated NMU 1-0 in the first GLIAC game of the year in September.
This game will help decide who will get home field advantage for the opening round of the GLIAC championships Nov. 6.
Currently the Wildcats are in fifth place in the GLIAC and can only go up.
A win against Ashland, and a Saginaw Valley State University (7-8, 7-6 GLIAC) loss or tie, would bump NMU to fourth.
SVSU is set to play Northwood University on Sunday.
In the GLIAC, the top six of eight teams will make it to the tournament.
The first two teams getting a bye.
Grand Valley State University has clinched home-field advantage throughout the tournament, and Tiffin grabbed the second spot with the tie against Northern.
Ferris State has one of the first round byes guaranteed.
However, a FSU loss and SVSU win would put them against the Wildcats in the first round in Big Rapids, Mich.
The tournament bracket will be finalized after the SVSU-Northwood game on Sunday.
Coach Granstrand said this is the best time of the year for his team to play at the top of its game.
“As our year is winding down we are playing our best soccer. That’s the way we always want it,” Granstrand said. “We have made the GLIAC Tourney, now we see how far we can go.”
NMU will play it’s final regular seasons game, Saturday in Ohio against Ashland.