The season ended with a weekend split for the men’s club soccer team, as it lost to Michigan Tech 3-2 on Friday, Oct. 15, but defeated the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers 3-2 on Saturday, Oct. 16
“It was bittersweet,” said forward Nic Davison. “I love playing, but I know we’re still done.”
Forward Ian Beddows scored both goals for the Wildcats in the loss to Michigan Tech. The loss in Houghton was the first ever loss against the Huskies. The ’Cats had been a perfect five for five against Tech, including a 4-1 win at home in the season opener. Unfortunately for NMU, off-the-field distractions hurt them.
“We were unprepared,” said senior midfielder Dale Dexter, team president and captain. “We’ve had some injuries and then we all have work and school and other commitments. We just weren’t as prepared as much as in the past.”
The Wildcats turned things around on Saturday afternoon, as they hosted the Panthers. In a physical game, filled with fouls and illegal use of hands, the Wildcats showed poise against their hated rival. NMU took control of the game with a goal from senior forward Nic Davison after a three-on-two breakaway about 20 minutes into the contest. Davison scored another goal later in the half, after the Panthers left him open after a short corner kick.
“They didn’t come up to challenge me and I knew the wind would push it in (the goal), so I took the shot,” Davison said.
However Wisconsin-Milwaukee came back after two unanswered goals, one in the first half from the top of the box, and a garbage goal inside the goalie box halfway through the second. With 12 minutes to go in the game, Beddows took the pass from Dexter for the game winner in the right side of the net.
“I knew we needed a hero to step up,” Beddows said. “I got a lucky touch after a pretty good pass and took the shot.”
After the goal, the Panthers went into panic mode and took nine shots in the final 10 minutes, all stopped by goalie Aric Bekaert. For his efforts, Bekaert was named player of the game.
“The second half as a whole was a lot more nerve-wracking,” Bekaert said. “There were some chances that shouldn’t have been there, but we can’t be disappointed. We sent this season out the right way.”
The victory was the first win in the program’s history against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“It was awesome for the people on the team for five years who had never beat them,” Dexter said.
The team ended their season with a 7-5 record, putting them in fourth place in the Great Lakes Division of the Midwest Alliance Soccer Conference. Wisconsin-Eau Claire won the division, finishing 8-2, while Wisconsin-Milwaukee edged out NMU by half a game for third place (6-3-1).