’Cats make final push toward playoffs

Lauren Lee

The NMU women’s soccer team will play their last games of the season this week against the Northwood University Timberwolves 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 at Dean Soccer field in Midland, Mich. and the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinals noon Saturday, Nov. 1 at Robert C. Braddock Field in Saginaw, Mich.

A win or tie in either matches will advance the Wildcats to the GLIAC tournament next weekend.

Head Coach Matt Granstrand said the team is ready to make playoffs by defeating the challenging teams they face away this weekend.

“Although Northwood doesn’t have a great record, they’re a great team, and records can be deceiving,” Granstrand said. “We’re still fighting to get into playoffs so we’re hoping to do well in both games. Winning those would give us better seeding. A tie will get us in, but we’re not going to settle for a tie.”

Northern is currently 7-7-1 overall and 5-5 in the conference. Ranking eighth out of the 13 GLIAC teams, the ’Cats look to face Northwood who is three spots lower in the GLIAC ranking at 11. Saginaw Valley currently ranks third.

Northwood has a 2-10-2 record overall this season and 1-8-1 in the conference. Last season NMU beat the Northwood Timberwolves at Friday, Oct. 11 at NMU soccer field in a 1-0 overtime win.

Senior defense Cheyenne Cecchini said the team hasn’t let adversity get the best of them this season.

“We’ve amazingly progressed, we had a rough patch in the beginning with some unlucky overtimes but we never let that get the best of us,” Cecchini said. “It’s always great to go out with a win. Winning both games would give us better rankings, so if anything, we hope to achieve that and keep working as a team with no let downs. We’ll give it all we’ve got and hope for the best.”

Timberwolves junior goalie Julie Shields is currently ranked fifth in the GLIAC with 76 saves overall this season. Shields has started and played in all 10 games for Northwood this season and made 65 saves in GLIAC matches.

The ’Cats sophomore goalie Caroline Glantz places above Shields, ranking fourth in the GLIAC for saves. Glantz has a total of 77 saves overall this season.

Junior defense Hailey Beyrand said the team is taking the last games serious but treating it like any other.

“We’ve had an absolutely great season and great group of girls, and I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Beyrand said. “We’re definitely looking to achieve two wins this weekend, and we’ll prepare the same we do every other weekend, taking each week only focusing on what’s coming up and preparing but definitely taking it seriously at the same time this weekend.”

The Saginaw Valley Cardinals currently have a record of 9-1-3 overall and 7-1-2 in the GLIAC.

NMU will play SVSU at Robert C. Braddock Field where the Cardinals have yet to lose at this season with a 4-0 record at their home turf.

In the 13 games played this season Saginaw Valley is averaging 1.7 goals per game and has made 22 goals so far.

NMU sophomore midfielder forward Paula Hafner ranks second in the GLIAC for points scoring 29 overall this season. Hafner leads the GLIAC in goals with 13, and is third in shots on goal with sixty.

Grandstrand said the team should have a good weekend and next season.

“I think we worked hard all year, it’s a close team that gets along great, plays hard and trains hard,” Granstrand said. “I’m proud of them and I think we’ve gotten better and better. We didn’t have any luck in the beginning of the season, and I think we played well the rest of the year. This is a talented team and the future looks bright. You always hope for a better record, but I have no complaints and hopefully we move forward to these playoffs.”