Second in GLIAC North up for grabs

Jon Young

It was a cold, rainy battle last Sunday, but the NMU women’s soccer team (6-4-2 GLIAC, 8-4-3 overall) defeated the Ferris State University Bulldogs, 1-0, and moved into second place in the GLIAC North.

The ’Cats had tied Ferris three out of the last four times they played, including earlier this season.

Senior goalkeeper Jessica Baker said it felt good to finally top the Bulldogs, especially competing with the winds.

“Playing against Ferris and putting them away where they should belong is really good,” Baker said. (Playing) against the wind is hard, too.”

The windy conditions on the shores of Lakes Superior have proven to be an advantage for the ’Cats, who are currently 4-1-1 at home.
NMU kept the ball low and junior midfielder KC McCary found freshman midfielder Kim Rietveld at the 20:01 minute for the game’s only goal.

Rietveld punched the ball in from three yards out for her third goal of the season and second game-winner. Head coach Matt Granstrand said he was impressed with the freshman’s ability.

“She had a great finish,” Granstrand said. “You knew she was going to finish when she got herself into the box there.”

The Bulldogs had a chance to push the game to overtime on a corner kick with less than two minutes left. The defense was able to clear the ball and Baker picked up her sixth shutout of the season.

Baker, who is second place in the GLIAC for shutouts, said the conditions add new challenges to goalkeeping.

“It’s really hard to judge balls,” Baker said. “It makes you stay back a little bit more, read shots a little better and be a little less aggressive.”

The first game of the weekend came against the defending National Champions Grand Valley State University Lakers.

Despite losing 5-0, the Wildcats played a back-and-forth match against the Lakers all game but couldn’t finish their chances. Granstrand said Grand Valley’s talent always makes it a challenge.

“There’s a reason they’re national champs every year,” Granstrand said. “I thought we played them really well, especially the first half. I think we had some opportunities and maybe we could have finished and didn’t.”

NMU had the first scoring chance of the game five minutes in, when junior forward Amelia Johnson got around the defense and fired a shot off the crossbar.

The Lakers responded with two first-half goals and never looked back. Granstrand said the talent level of Grand Valley makes his team better.

“They’re the best team in the country and we get the honor of playing them twice,” Granstrand said. “Even in the wind, we got some shots on goal; I’m proud of what we did. The score will look worse than I think the game was, but that’s sports.”

The Wildcats are battling through some key injuries. Junior defender Caitlin Glendenning is out with a knee injury and senior defender Aurora Jackson is still sidelined. Senior forward and leading scorer Chelsea Lyons also missed the Ferris State game after suffering an injury against Grand Valley. Granstrand said the team isn’t using injuries as an excuse.

“We’re going to do it the right way and win as a team,” Granstrand said. “Today was an example of what we can do regardless of injuries.”

NMU is at home again this weekend. They host the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals (4-6-2 GLIAC, 5-6-2 overall) at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21. The second game of the weekend is against the Northwood University Timberwolves (4-8 GLIAC, 5-8 overall) at noon on Sunday, Oct. 23.

“Our record is exactly what I thought it would be before the year started,” Granstrand said. “The rest of the year is up for grabs and we’ll come out ready. We’re at home and we like playing here.”