Welcome back, Wildcat fans! We’ve recently closed the book on a fantastic first semester for NMU sports. The football team finished with its first winning record in seven years, and the volleyball team qualified for its second consecutive NCAA tournament. But a few special moments left us cheering louder, smiling wider and feeling especially proud to sport olive green and gold. Here is our list of the top five moments in NMU sports from the first half of the year:
5. NMU hockey scores 11 goals against Nebraska-Omaha: Nov. 20-21, 2009
The last few years, the Wildcats have been highly regarded for many things, but offensive production was seldom on the list. That made it all the more impressive this season when the ‘Cats handed the visiting Mavericks a pair of 5-1 and 6-3 losses. Junior forward Greger Hanson had a pair of three-point games, and senior goalie Brian Stewart earned CCHA goalkeeper of the week in the series, which was one of the more thorough drubbings the Berry Events Center has seen in some time.
4. Soccer team hosts first GLIAC tournament game: Nov. 3, 2009
The Wildcat women’s soccer team has been agonizingly close to hosting a GLIAC tournament game for several years, including a 2006 campaign that saw them finish third in the conference and travel for the opening round. This year, however, they finished fourth and hosted their first ever tournament game. They beat the Findlay Oilers 2-1 and added another accolade to the growing list of accomplishments for this relatively young varsity program.
3. Football ‘Cats conquer Wayne State Warriors: Oct. 10, 2009
The football team got off to a solid start this season, but some were hesitant to believe the hype before the team got a win against a quality opponent. The naysayers were silenced on Oct. 10 when the then-No. 19 Warriors came to the Superior Dome. WSU running back Joique Bell was regarded as one of the best in the nation, and NFL scouts were rumored to be in attendance for the game against NMU. The Wildcats shut Bell down, holding him to 106 total rushing yards and stomping the Warriors 45-20.
2. Women’s basketball topples No. 1 Huskies: Jan. 2, 2010
It’s not often that a team gets a shot at the top-ranked team in the country, let alone two in a several week span. But the Wildcat women’s basketball team got two shots at the No. 1 Michigan Tech Huskies this year and knocked them down a peg or two when the teams faced off in Houghton, Mich. Forward Mariah Dunham contributed 16 points to the upset. Not only did it boost the confidence of an eager NMU squad, but it ended a nearly five-year losing streak against the Huskies, as the last time NMU emerged victorious against Tech was in February of 2005.
1. Matt Butcher sends the Spartans home: Dec. 5, 2009
Senior forward Matt Butcher contributes many things to the Wildcat hockey team, but he will likely be remembered for his overtime heroics. When the Michigan State Spartans came to town this December, Butcher cemented that reputation. After a disappointing 1-0 loss the first night, the Wildcats battled to a 2-2 tie after regulation. Just when it looked like a shootout was on its way, Butcher flung the puck towards the goal, where it banked off a Spartan defenseman and past the goalie. The goal sent the 3,802 fans in attendance to their feet and earned the top spot on our countdown.
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