NMU club soccer team captain and player coach Ethan Mapes will be the first to tell you that after a 1-1 tie with UW-Eau Claire and a 3-3 tie with Tech draws aren’t ideal.
“Draws are always bad especially after leading at the half. It’s not good for us,” Mapes said. “Despite the chill of 41 degrees and windy gusts of 50 mph, NMU came out hot against Michigan Tech.”
Many early opportunities by sophomore midfielder Kyle Annelin and forward Brian McGowan finally gave NMU the lead as sophomore midfielder Alex Powell scored to make the game 1-0. There was a lot of confusion in front of the net, and Powell was able to capitalize and tap it in. Later in the first half, Brian McGowan scored, beating a defender and sending the ball across the net for a 2-0 NMU lead going into the half.
Tech bounced back in the second half as they scored an early goal. There were a lot of people in front of the Wildcat net, and the clutter allowed Tech to sneak a goal by. Not too long after, Tech was rewarded a penalty kick which they capitalized on, tying up the game up.
Another penalty kick was given right after to NMU, which they missed, and on the counter attack, Tech almost scored on a wide open header after an uncontested cross. Tech managed to score again to take a 3-2 lead.
NMU bounced back as McGowan scored his second goal, chipping the Tech keeper to save the game with a 3-3 draw. The ’Cats were obviously disappointed and Mapes was upset the game didn’t go their way.
“The game was evenly matched, but we clearly out possessed them, I’d say about 70 to 30 percent in our favor.” Mapes said. “ We have to bounce back; it’s not bad getting a draw after two huge losses. It gives us new confidence going into tomorrow.”
Annelin, however, thought that the draw was positive.
“We played well with some players back against a tough Tech team,” Annelin said. “The draw stings, it gives us a lot of positives. Hopefully the wind isn’t a factor tomorrow.”
Saturday, Oct. 6 saw the same blustery winds, but with hail. Amidst the rough weather, the ’Cats played a tough game following Friday’s draw in a very emotional game against UW-Eau Claire, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
McGowan scored an early goal, giving NMU another early lead. He got the ball, beat all the defenders and scored on an empty net. Not too long after, the ’Cats faced a tough challenge. McGowan slid going for the ball, hitting it with his cleats up. Eau Claire’s keeper fell on them and gamesmanship the referee pulled a red card on McGowan, ejecting him and giving the Wildcats only 10 men for the rest of the game.
McGowan said the ref’s call was up to his judgement.
“It was a 50-50 chance; it could have gone either way,” McGowan said. “The ref made the call he thought was right.”
Despite playing a man down for most of the game, NMU didn’t concede a goal until the very end. The ’Cats were playing with a replacement keeper, who hasn’t played the position since high school. Mapes was very impressed with his team’s play and his keeper.
“The result of the game isn’t upsetting after only giving up one goal a man down,” Mapes said. “Dietrich Smith played his heart out on the pitch.”
Smith was quick to thank his teammates for aiding him in his performance.
“Everyone stepped up and helped me out a lot,” Smith said. “It wasn’t just me, my team did a lot to keep the ball out of the box, and they deserve a lot of praise for the performance.”
NMU looks to rebound next weekend on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13 as they travel to UW-La Crosse for their final two games.