The Northern Michigan University soccer team split a pair of games, losing to Saginaw
Valley State University 0-1 on Friday and winning 3-2 against Northwood on Sunday in a very windy weekend set.
The Wildcats played a physical match against the Cardinals (7-1-1, 4-0-1 GLIAC) as the game went scoreless through halftime. NMU
had some good opportunities, with free kicks launched from 35 and 40 yards out pushed over
the cross bar by the wind along with a 45-yard free kick that was saved by the goalie.
In the second half, Saginaw Valley forward Renee Privette found the back of the net with
help from defenseman Kristen Kemmer. This goal was all the Cardinals needed to beat the
‘Cats, despite an attack in the box with 11 seconds left in the game.
“It’s a 50-50 battle,” said NMU head coach Matt Granstrand.
“Whoever scored first was going to win the game. Every (GLIAC) conference game is going to be like this.”
Northern had a better result on Sunday against the visiting Northwood Timberwolves (4-4-1, 1-3-1 GLIAC). Forward Marie Zaccagni scored first for Northwood, less than three
minutes into the game. The Wildcats responded quickly with an unassisted goal by junior forward Dana Stephens just after the ten-minute mark. Senior defenseman Joanna Kiilunen also scored at the 22-minute mark to
make the game 2-1 at the half.
In the second half, Stephens scored again, this time with help from senior defenseman Celia Sturos, at 60:15, giving Northern
a comfortable 3-1 lead. Northwood midfielder
Mallory McCarthy scored unassisted to cut the lead to one with 30 minutes to play in the game. The Wildcats were able
to hold the score and take a 3-2
“I think, when the wind is as strong as it is and both teams are as competitive as they are, it’s going to be a scramble at times,”
said senior NMU captain Emily Lockery. “There’s no way that one team can dominate a whole 90 minutes.”
The wind was over 30-mph for both games, with more severe gusts during Sunday’s match.
Granstrand said going against the powerful winds in the second half wasn’t an issue for the ‘Cats.
“In the second half we went to a style of play that we’ve done for almost [the players]
entire career,” said Granstrand. “To switch into the different formation [helped].”
The Wildcats are now 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the GLIAC as the team reaches the midpoint of
the season. This is a good enough record for third place, behind No. 4 Grand Valley (9-0-1, 5-0) and Saginaw Valley.
“I think any win in our conference is important,” said Granstrand. “There’s not a team in our conference that you can take for granted. If you do, you lose.”
Up next is a trip to Ohio for a Friday game against Findlay and a Sunday game against Tiffin. Both teams play a very aggressive
physical game, similar to the play of Saginaw Valley. NMU, however, runs a possession game plan.
“Pretty much everyone in the conference plays a physical game besides us and maybe Grand Valley,” said Granstrand.
The plan for the ‘Cats is to focus on one game at a time.
“We play Findlay first and try to get that result, and then we will worry about Tiffin,” said Granstrand.