Varsity soccer suffers first loss of year

Jon Young

It took a battle against the defending national champions for the NMU women’s soccer team (2-1-1 GLIAC, 4-1-2 overall) to lose a heartbreker for the first loss of the season last weekend against the Grand Valley State University Lakers (3-0 GLIAC, 3-0-2 overall).

The ’Cats dropped the road match 2-0, but head coach Matt Granstrand said he was impressed with his team’s effort and willingness to play against the Lakers.

“I think we played a really good game today. I’m proud of what we did,” Granstrand said. “It was the first time in the eight years I’ve been here that we’ve actually played them in a straight up just back and forth soccer game. It wasn’t like we sat back and defended and tried to get our one chance; we actually came out and played.”

The Lakers, who haven’t lost in the GLIAC since Northern beat them at home last season, broke the 0-0 tie at the 31:44 minute with an unassisted goal. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Baker said that Grand Valley’s big field makes the game difficult, but the ’Cats know they can play with them.

“Playing at their place always adds to the challenge because they have one of the biggest fields we play on,” Baker said. “But the field is not an excuse; we definitely hung with Grand Valley and had opportunities to score as well. It will be another exciting game when we play them at home in a few weeks.”

Grand Valley scored its second goal of the game at the 60:30 minute mark on a penalty kick, following a yellow card from Baker. That rounded out the scoring for the match. Senior defender Missy Mohr said the team is ready for another shot against Grand Valley.

“When they come to NMU, we expect to win,” Mohr said. “We know they won’t be taking us lightly at all, but I think we’re ready for that challenge again.”

The ’Cats’ first game of the weekend was against the Ferris State University Bulldogs (2-1-1 GLIAC, 2-4-1 overall) and for the third time in their last four games, it ended in a tie. Neither team was able to find the back of the net and the game ended 0-0. Granstrand said NMU and Ferris can’t seem to shake the tie when they play.

“We always tie at Ferris State. It doesn’t matter what we do, it’s going to end up being a tie,” Granstrand said. “It was one of those strange games when both teams put themselves in position to get some goals, but didn’t get them.”

The ’Cats, who haven’t played at home since Sept. 4, are on the road again for the third straight weekend. This weekend wraps up their six-game road swing and Granstrand said the team is ready to get back home.

“I think the schedule is a joke, to ask a team to do the kind of thing we have to do right now,” Granstrand said. “We’ll spend the second half of the season at home. “If we get a split on the road or better this next weekend then we put ourselves in a great position at home for a great finish.”

Next weekend, the ’Cats travel downstate. Their first game is at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 against the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals (1-3-1 GLIAC, 2-3-1 overall). Then they face the Northwood University Timberwolves (2-2 GLIAC, 3-2 overall) at noon Sunday, Sept. 25.

“We have another big weekend on the road with Saginaw and Northwood,” Baker said. “We need to stay focused and continue to work hard and have fun.”