The Northern Michigan Club lacrosse team split their games this weekend, losing to the Hope College Flying Dutchmen on Friday, but defeating the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Sunday.
“I feel like we definitely grew together after the game at Hope, but we were able to come out for the big win against Oakland,” said attackman John Sperry.
NMU started quickly against Oakland, amounting a 3-0 lead after the first period and a 4-1 score at the half. Then the weather hit. High winds and wet, sticky snow made things tough for the teams as it quickly covered the field and hard to see the white ball in the air.
“It was snowing so hard that I could barely watch the game,” said NMU coach Matt Glenn. “At halftime we talked to the other coach and he wanted to call it. I looked at the guys and we wanted to play and we wanted to win.”
But despite the want for a win, Oakland was the team that came out tough to start the second, clawing back with four unanswered goals in the third and fourth quarters. The snow definitely gave goalie Kevin Sande some difficulties, as he said the unusually high amount of bounce shots sprayed the accumulating snow into his face. NMU was able to score the equalizer, but Sperry’s goal with 1:31 left in the game gave the Wildcats the go-ahead goal.
“Well I had (attackman Ryan Moliassa) coming down from the right side and he drew a double team. My defensemen went towards him and he passed the ball to me, and I was able to shoot hard for the goal.”
The Grizzlies pushed the ball after the last faceoff to try to get one last shot on Sande, but a steal by defenseman Nick Johnson sealed the deal for the Wildcats.
“I was overall really happy,” Sande said. “I helped out the team a bunch and I was proud how the rest of the team played, we just pulled it together and got a win.”
The win at Oakland had a special tie for the coach. Glenn won a national championship as a player with Oakland in 2004/2005 and played under current Golden Grizzlies coach Ron Herbert. Glenn also played at Notre Dame Prep in Pontiac, Mich. However, the coach stressed his loyalty to his present team.
“This game had personal meaning to me, but overall, the way I feel is the same as the team,” Glenn said. “We’re just happy that the hard work pays off in a hard fought match and we came away with another conference win.”
The game against Hope was described by one of the players as “the biggest game for the program in years” and a victory was guaranteed two weeks ago by attackman Craig Pulak. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that guarantee was not upheld and NMU lost 24-3.
The loss sends the ’Cats to 1-2 in the CCLA North Division, eliminating the team from the playoffs. Each team in the four-team North plays each other and the top two teams move onto the CCLA tournament. After playing all its divisional games, there is no way to gain any spots on Hope or Davenport University.
The Wildcats will end their season with two non-conference games at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. on April 16 and 17 against St. Olaf College and the host Knights, respectively. With a weekend sweep, Northern can end the season at .500.