Women’s soccer ranked for first time

Jon Young

Left: junior defender Missy Mohr goes up against an opposing forward to clear the ball from the Wildcat defensive zone. Right: sophomore midfielder Kylee St. Arnauld motions for control of the ball. // Justin Key/NW

The NMU women’s varsity soccer team kept their perfect record in place and held on to the top position in the GLIAC with another sweep this weekend. The Wildcats started homecoming weekend off on Friday Sept. 24, with a 3-0 win over Saginaw Valley State.

The team is ranked no. 21 according to the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America D-II rankings. This marks the first time in the program’s history that the team has been ranked.

“Bottom line is Saginaw is a NCAA tournament team the last couple of years, they beat us twice last year,” said head coach Matt Granstrand. “Our goal was to try to come out and get a tough win over a quality opponent.”

The ‘Cats (5-0-1 GLIAC, 5-0-3 overall) came out aggressive and wasted little time breaking the game open with a goal from senior forward Dana Stephens at 14:34. The ‘Cats added to the lead when senior forward Kari Buckel scored the first of her two goals off a penalty kick.

“We’re evolving and we’re learning as a team” Granstrand said. “We’re learning how to try to set the tempo and keep teams on their heels.”

The ‘Cats shutout over Saginaw Valley was their fourth consecutive game holding opponents scoreless. NMU added to their lead at 54:02 when Buckel scored her second goal of the contest off the Stephens assist. Buckel was happy to be back on the field after missing the Grand Valley game.

“It felt good it’s been a week since I played so I was ready and we just took it to them,” Buckel said.

On Sunday Sept. 26, the Wildcats took the pitch against the visiting Northwood University Timberwolves in front of the homecoming crowd and came away with a 2-1 victory. NMU jumped out to the early lead when sophomore midfielder Becky Schmidt set up Dana Stephens for the goal less than three minutes into the game. Granstrand was impressed with the team’s defensive effort.

“Were deep back there, and that’s our strength on this team,” Granstrand said. “That’s the style I’ve always coached and I don’t see it changing.”

Buckel added to the ‘Cats lead in the second half when she scored an unassisted goal at 50:09. The goal was her third of the weekend. Northwood responded late with a goal from Amanda Watson at 79:41, but Northern was able to escape with the win.

“They always rise up against us,” Buckel said. “We knew we had to come out like the last couple of weekends and remain strong.”

Granstrand knew coming into the game that Northwood would come ready to play and was happy with the way his team battled.

“Our strength today was that we persevered,” Granstrand said. “Northwood is a stubborn team that has a lot of heart and keeps battling and staying in the game.”

The Wildcats finished up their home stand with a 5-0-3 record and sole possession of first place in the GLIAC. The Wildcats are on the road this weekend as they take a trip to Ohio to play the Lake Erie College Storm (0-6 GLIAC 2-6 overall) Friday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. Then on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 12 p.m. they visit Ashland University 1-4-1 GLIAC, 2-5-1 overall) with hopes of holding onto first place.