Road trip too much for ‘Cats


Northern Michigan’s soccer team went winless on a tough road trip to Ohio this weekend, as they tied the University of Findlay Oilers 1-1 on Friday and lost 3-1 to the Tiffin University Dragons on Sunday.

“It was our biggest weekend so far,” said captain Emily Lockery. “Both teams were ranked below us before the weekend, and it was important for us to get the wins, but it didn’t happen.”

NMU brought the offensive pressure to Northwood early with two shots in the first five minutes, but the Oilers (4-4-2, 3-2-2 GLIAC) drew first blood with a goal by Sara Jones, assisted by Brianna Milne and Emily Beddoes. NMU went 0-4 on shots in the rest of the first half.

NMU was only able to put up three shots in the second half, but the header by junior forward Dana Stephens with only 1:32 left on the clock tied the game at one a piece and sent it to two overtime periods. The Wildcats dominated the extra time, outshooting Findlay 7-0, but none of them connected, ending the game in a 1-1 tie.

Despite their weekend finish, head coach Matt Granstrand was still largely pleased with what he saw.

“I thought we didn’t have a first good half against Findlay, but we improved in the second half and overtime,” said Granstrand.

The second game of the trip ended up even worse for Northern. The Dragons (3-3-2, 3-2-2 GLIAC) took the lead in the first half with a goal by Ashley Davis. They scored again early in the second half, but senior NMU defenseman Joanna Kiilunen added an unassisted goal at 61:50 to make the score 2-1. Davis responded quickly for the Dragons with her second goal of the day 40 seconds later for the final goal of the game.

“Tiffin is a good team and came out competitive,” said Lockery. “Unfortunately, we had some let downs on defense and not finishing some opportunities on offense.”

The trip to Ohio was the longest and most physically demanding road trip of the season. The team travelled over 1,100 miles on the four-day journey.

“Ten hours on a bus is never the ideal situation. It’s pretty exhausting,” Lockery said.

NMU will play four of the remaining seven games at home, all of which are against GLIAC opponents. In the first part of the season, only three of the first 11 games were at home, so Northern was forced to travel as far away as Indianapolis and St. Paul, Minn. The Wildcats are 2-1 at home so far this season.

“As weather deteriorates, home is very good for us,” said Granstrand. “The schedule tilts in our favor.”

The ‘Cats are now 5-5-1 overall and 3-3-1 and sit in fifth place in the GLIAC. Granstrand, though, is not worried about being .500 in the middle of the conference schedule.

“We’re in the mix and nothing has been decided,” he said. “Every [GLIAC team] is good and it sounds like just coach talk, but statistically every game is even.”

This weekend’s games will bring the one statistical anomaly of the conference to Marquette: No. 4 Grand Valley State University. The Lakers are undefeated in 33 straight conference matches, though they tied with Saginaw Valley State University last week.

“We look forward to [GVSU],” said Granstrand. “Grand Valley is fun to play and everyone wants to take a shot at them. I know we do.”

The Wildcats will play the GVSU Lakers on Friday, then prepare to face Ferris State for a Sunday contest. NMU defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 in Big Rapids earlier in the season, but Granstrand knows another win is not guaranteed.

“FSU is a great example of a good team that hasn’t hit a break all year,” he said.

Both games will be played at the outdoor fields east of the Superior Dome.