Soccer team makes first ever NCAA appearance

Jon Young

On Monday, Nov. 8, the NCAA women’s division II tournament brackets were released, and for the first time in the program’s history the NMU women’s soccer team made the tournament. On Friday, Nov. 12 at noon, the Wildcats (8-4-3 GLIAC, 9-5-5 overall) will be in Kenosha, Wisc. to take on the Northern Kentucky Norse (13-1-0 Great Lakes Valley Conference, 16-2-1 overall). Head coach Matt Granstrand is happy to see the team make it in after being close many seasons before.

“It’s huge; we’ve been on the door step year after year after year,” Granstrand said. “To finally get in is fantastic; the girls are very deserving of this.”

For the third-seeded Norse, this is the third straight appearance at the NCAA tournament. The team was the winner of the Great Lakes Valley Conference and is lead by Amanda Mason with 17 goals. The ’Cats are the sixth seed and aren’t content with just getting a tournament bid.

“We don’t go ‘oh that’s fantastic we’re in,’” Granstrand said. “Northern Kentucky is a good team, but we know a little bit about them. We think we can compete pretty well against them.”

The winner of the game will go on to play the host, second-seed University of Wisconsin Parkside Rangers (16-2-1) on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 1:30 p.m. Senior goalie Dana Bush is happy to see the team make the tournament after coming close in past years.

“It’s really exciting, we’ve been working it all five years I’ve been here,” Bush said. “It’s exciting to finally accomplish that goal.”

The successful season on the pitch for Northern didn’t go unnoticed in the GLIAC, as four players were named to all-conference teams. Senior forwards Dana Stephens and Kari Buckel made second team all-conference along with sophomore forward Amelia Johnson. Sophomore goalie Jessica Baker made first team all-GLIAC.

“It’s pretty cool, I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Baker said. “I definitely owe it to my defense, because the goalie doesn’t look good unless they do good.”

On Friday, Nov. 5 the NMU women’s varsity soccer team traveled to Allendale, Michigan to take on the Tiffin University Dragons (9-3-2 GLIAC 12-5-2 overall) in the GLIAC tournament semifinals. For the second time this year, the ’Cats fell to the NCAA tournament bound Dragons 2-0. Granstrand thought the team played well but couldn’t overcome the injuries.

“I thought we played well in the beginning, but there was a pyramid of injuries as the game progressed,” Granstrand said. “It’s hard enough to play Tiffin when you’re healthy.”

Tiffin’s Ashley Davis broke the tie open at 13:41 with a goal from 12 yards out. The Wildcats battled all game, despite all the injuries they sustained, including two concussions. Injuries aside, Granstrand credited Tiffin’s solid play in the victory.

“Tiffin’s just a quality team,” Granstrand said. “Credit to them and their coach, she did a great job. They play a nice brand of soccer.”

Tiffin scored again at 74:23 to go up 2-0. The Dragons outshot the ’Cats 15-4 in the game. Both Bush and Baker saw time at goalie against Tiffin. Bush recorded four saves, and Baker had two. Tiffin went on to the championship game where they fell to Grand Valley 2-0.