Three games into their season, the men’s club soccer team has already seen some ups and downs.
The Wildcats played the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 11. They went in expecting it to be a tough match, as the two teams have been consistently similar in skill level and records.
Team president and captain Dale Dexter said he felt the Saturday game went well.
“We had the little things down: passes and communication on the field,” Dexter said.
The Eagles-’Cats game stayed neutral for most of the match, until the very end when a crucial goal was scored. With less than 10 minutes on the clock, the Wildcats put the ball in the net, taking the game 1-0.
The team also had a match on Sunday, Sept. 12 against a tough opponent—the UW-Eau Claire Blugolds.
The beginning of the contest looked promising, with a goal for the Wildcats. Soon afterward, however, the Blugolds caught up and scored. The game was tied within the first 20 minutes and it stayed that way until the second half.
In the last half, both teams fought neck and neck. But in the remaining 20 minutes, the Blugolds showed signs of pulling ahead. They shot three close goals, but the Wildcats persisted, goalie Aric Bekaert putting up a wall each time. On the fourth goal, the Blugolds finally broke the tie. With only 15 minutes left to catch up, the Wildcats just barely lost grip on the game, ending with a score of 1-2.
“The best part of our match was the weather,” defender Tyler Walls joked.
“We expected a tough game,” Walls said. “They’ve been a pretty good team for a few years.”
Dexter said all three teams involved in the contests this weekend—Northern, UW Lacrosse and UW Eau Claire—ranked high in regional standings last year.
“Every year, we’re kinda neck and neck, and we always finish around the same spot,” Dexter said.
The Wildcats worked hard, but Dexter said they just couldn’t get the job done in the second half.
“We started the game strong like we wanted to but then things in the second half didn’t really go our way,” he said. “We need to work more on our passing and keeping possession of the ball.”
Of course, having to play two back-to-back games in one weekend can throw a wrench in the plan. One of the more difficult aspects for the team was being worn out from the previous match.
However, Dexter and his team are already preparing for their next competition in Petoskey, MI on Saturday, Sept. 25 against the Ferris State Bulldogs.
“We’re just gonna look at what we did wrong in this game, concentrate on our passing and spend as much time with the ball and on the field as we can.”
With two wins and a loss on the season, the cup remains half full for the Wildcats.