The Wildcat soccer team continued its hot start as they picked up two more wins this week to remain unbeaten. The ’Cats’ stellar performance on the field is gaining them national attention as they were recently ranked No. 13 in the latest NCAA Division II poll.
Head coach Matt Granstrand said it’s an honor, but the team has to keep looking ahead and preparing for upcoming games.
“I think for a day we should enjoy it, because it’s a credit to the girls,” Granstrand said. “Then after today, forget about it and get back to work.”
On Sunday, Sept. 11 NMU (2-0 GLIAC, 4-0-1 overall) took a 1-0 victory over the host Ohio Dominican University. Granstrand said he was happy to make it out with the win after the long haul.
“Anytime you can be on the bus for 26 hours and win, we’ll take it. It’s a miserably long trip against a good opponent,” Granstrand said. “Jessica Baker had a fantastic game and Tevun (Sellers) had a nice goal; we got the win and got home.”
It took the ’Cats most of the game to find the back of the net, but at the 71:02 minute mark freshman forward Tevun Sellers punched in her second goal of the season to give the ’Cats the lead. Granstrand said he’s happy with Sellers’ impact, but it wasn’t unexpected.
“Tevun’s certainly made an impact from the get go,” Granstrand said. “Not really surprising, I knew she could do it, but I’m happy to see a freshman contributing.”
The NMU defense was solid once again. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Baker collected seven saves and recorded her fifth career shutout.
Her play earned her GLIAC player of the week. Sophomore defender Kaylagh Hollen had high praise for the goalie’s performance.
“Defensively, Jessica Baker had a really good game and kept us in it,” Hollen said. “A lot of us were getting worn down and she really stepped it up with her goalkeeping.”
The ’Cats’ first game of the week was last Wednesday, Sept. 7 at rival and second-year program Michigan Tech. NMU picked up a 3-1 win to remain undefeated against the Huskies.
Baker said the team enjoys playing Tech and was impressed with the second half performance.
“The Tech game was good, but we started off a little shaky,” Baker said. “It’s always fun to play your rival, and its good competition. Everyone’s always into it. We definitely played a lot better in the second half.”
The ’Cats got on the board first with a goal from junior forward Amelia Johnson at the 29:37 minute off an assist from junior midfielder Kylee St. Arnauld. Northern added to their lead shortly before half with a goal from freshman midfielder Kim Rietveld, assisted by senior forward Chelsea Lyons. Granstrand said he’s impressed with Lyons ability to gel with the team.
“Chelsea is a fantastic athlete,” Granstrand said. “More importantly, she fits in very well with the team. She’s made an effort to blend in with the rest of the girls, and because of that I think we play a very solid team game, and she’s a big part of that.”
The Huskies responded in the second half with a strike at the 55:07 minute. Lyons responded shortly after with her sixth goal of the season at 57:59 to put NMU back up by two. Granstrand said the Tech team is on the rise, and he’s happy the team got the win.
“You know Michigan Tech is an up-and-coming team. They’re very talented,” Granstrand said. “They’re are hard to beat on the road and we played hard enough to go up there and get a win against a quality team.”
Next weekend the Wildcats travel downstate to face a couple GLIAC North opponents. Their first game is at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 against the Ferris State Bulldogs (1-1 GLIAC, 1-3 overall). The next match is at noon on Sunday, Sept. 18 against Grand Valley State University (1-0 GLIAC, 1-0-2 overall).