Wildcats dominate GLIAC opener

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The Northern Michigan University soccer team deftly defeated the Ashland University Eagles 5-0 on Sunday in the first home game and first GLIAC game of the year for the Wildcats.

“We’re off to a good start,” said head coach Matt Granstrand. “Last year we lost to [Ashland] to open the year. Starting off 0-1 in conference and 1-0 is a big difference. It’s a good starting point.”

The ‘Cats were able to spread around offensive production as a team, as all five goals were scored by different players. Forward Dana Stephens started the scoring with help from forward Amelia Johnson. Defenseman Celia Sturos scored next with an assist from captain Emily Lockery. Forward Kari Buckel ended the first half scoring with an unassisted goal with just over a minute remaining in the first half.

The first half play of Northern earned the respect of Ashland head coach Mike Hall.

“That’s the best performance I’ve seen from Northern Michigan University soccer in the nine years I’ve been in the GLIAC, by far,” said Hall. “They controlled the game for 45 minutes.”

Hall was ejected after a red card with 18 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Wildcats did not let up in the second half as Lockery scored the fourth goal of the game just 17 seconds into the second half. Midfielder KC McCary scored the final NMU goal in the 87th minute. Both second half goals were unassisted. The ‘Cats continued controlling the game as NMU out shot Ashland 25-9 and in corner kicks 6-0. Lockery attributed the constant pressure to the depth of the team.

“I know when we get tired, we have a lot of girls that can come in and fill the spots and the level of play doesn’t drop,” said Lockery. “It’s a good thing to see.”

Sunday’s game also marked the 20th career shutout for senior goalkeeper Kara Music.

“I hope I can keep it up during the season,” said Music. “Obviously my defense is going to help me out a lot. They are awesome this year.”

Music finished the game with five total saves.

Northern Michigan is now 3-2 overall. The two losses came to non conference foes Minnesota-Duluth and No. 12 University of Indianapolis.

“We played a very tough non-conference schedule on the road the last two weekends,” said Granstrand. “And it was to prepare for this (GLIAC schedule), so I think we were ready to go, mentally, physically, ready to play a conference game.”

This was the first GLIAC game for NMU. Despite their success, the team will not dwell on their victory too much as they prepare to travel to No. 4 Grand Valley State University (4-0-1, 1-0 GLIAC) and then Ferris State (0-4-1, 0-1 GLIAC) on Sunday.

“I saw a lot of good stuff. I was pleased,” Granstrand said. “That said and done, we’ll enjoy it for 24 hours and then we play Grand Valley on Friday.”

The Wildcats will return home Sept. 25 for a game against rival Saginaw Valley State University.

Editor’s note: Curt Kemp contributed to the reporting of this article.