The NMU women’s varsity soccer team traveled downstate last weekend to battle two GLIAC conference opponents. On Friday, Oct. 15, the Wildcats (6-3-3 in the GLIAC, 6-3-5 overall) visited the No. 3 nationally ranked Grand Valley State Lakers (10-1-1 GLIAC, 13-1-1 overall) and lost 2-0 in a hard fought game.
“I thought we played really well. They are the class of the league,” said head coach Matt Granstrand. “I think we’ve come a long way; we battled them for 90 minutes.”
The Lakers were able to break open the tie at 28:57 off the Jaleen Dingledine goal. The ’Cats battled hard on defense and kept the game within one goal until a late Grand Valley score off the foot of Ashley Botts at 78:08 sealed the game at 2-0. The Wildcats are still the only team who has beaten Grand Valley this season and Granstrand was proud of the team’s effort.
“I think they were out for us because they haven’t lost in four or five years and we beat them,” Granstrand said. “I was proud of what we did. I thought we played a good game, and if we keep doing that, we will steal a few more from them.”
On Sunday, Oct. 17, the ’Cats traveled to Big Rapids to play the Ferris State Bulldogs (7-3-2 GLIAC, 7-5-3 overall) in a battle for position in the GLIAC. Like the first game against the Bulldogs earlier this season regulation wasn’t enough time to decide a winner, and the teams had to settle for a 1-1 double overtime tie. Assistant coach Joe Gillespie liked the team’s effort in the second half.
“We came out kind of slow in the first half,” Gillespie said. “I think the second half we came out a lot stronger, we just had trouble finding the back of the net.”
The ’Cats fell behind early when Ferris State’s Bri Borgman scored at 23:40 to give her team the early lead. The Wildcats responded to the goal at 53:17 when sophomore forward Amelia Johnson fought off the defender for a break away goal (seventh of the season) to tie the game.
“I thought we played well as a team and played hard throughout the whole game,” Johnson said. “We just got to keep fighting and trying to finish our chances.”
The Wildcats had 19 shot attempts compared to 15 for the Bulldogs, but were unable to find the net in overtime against the physical Ferris State team. Granstrand credited his team’s fight in the comeback effort.
“These girls aren’t going to quit they play hard,” Granstrand said. “We’re going to play hard the whole time, if there’s an opportunity for a win we’re going to get it.”
On Friday, Oct. 22 the Wildcats travel downstate to take on the second place in the GLIAC Saginaw Valley State Cardinals (7-4-1 GLIAC, 8-5-1 overall). On Sunday, Oct. 24 the ’Cats take on another conference opponent as they travel to Midland to take on the Northwood University Timberwolves (3-9 GLIAC, 5-9 Overall). Granstrand said he expects a tough battle against both teams.
“Saginaw and Northwood are both good teams, don’t be fooled by Northwood’s record,” Granstrand said. “It’s the GLIAC and in women’s soccer you got to show up and play well if you don’t your going to struggle.”