Last year the NMU soccer team finished the season ranked seventh in its region. The top six teams made the cut for the NCAA tournament.
This season the team will be looking to break into that top group and make the tournament, a feat which has thus far remained elusive.
“My expectations are high,” head coach Matt Granstrand said. “I have high expectations going into every season. We’ve got a lot of talent on our team and I know we will have a great team this year.”
The Wildcats finished last season with an 11-9-1 record (7-6-1 GLIAC). This tied them with Ferris State for fourth place in the GLIAC.
Returning for the Wildcats this year will be second-team all-GLIAC forward Kari Buckel. She will be joined by last year’s starting goaltender Kara Music. Music allowed just under a goal per game last season.
Joining them will be nine incoming players. Granstrand said he feels the incoming players all have a chance to make an immediate impact on the team.
“You never know. You hope that when you get into the preseason, that the incoming players are all ready to go, but all the players we recruit can play right away,” he said. “When we look to build our program we are always looking for girls who can make an impact immediately, not two or three years from now.”
This season also marks the opening of NMU’s new soccer complex. Located behind the Superior Dome in the same location as the old Outdoor Fields, the new soccer stadium is a fenced in structure. It also includes upgraded and expanded bleacher seating.
The season kicks off on Aug. 22 when the Wildcats take part in the annual alumni game. The Wildcats’ first regular season home game is Sept. 13 when the ‘Cats will take on Ashland University.
“It should be a great year for our team,” Granstrand said. “Our goal every year is to make the GLIAC playoffs, but our larger goal is to make the NCAA Tournament.”