Men’s soccer hits the road to start season

Steven Losiowski

As the preseason comes to an end, Northern Michigan University’s first ever men’s soccer team looks to make an impactful entrance into their inaugural season.

Led by head coach David Poggi, the Wildcat team won two of three preseason scrimmages.

re-mens.soccer1.CD“All three of them [were] very different,” Poggi said, “which was good because it gives us a different look and a different set of challenges.”

Of the nine teams, NMU  is  the newest addition to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). The men’s soccer team will compete against  schools like Saginaw Valley State University and the defending regular season champions, Northwood University.

The Wildcats are  picked to finish last of the nine teams in the 2016 GLIAC Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Freshman goalie Brayden Wilinski plans to use this as motivation.

“When [Poggi] told us that we kind of chuckled because we feel we can be better than that,” Wilinski said.

NMU will face teams with veteran players who have played together for years. In their first year playing with each other, this poses  a challenge for the new men’s soccer team.

“We need to be the best that we can be,” Wilinski said. “Not worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on us.” The young team consists of 25 freshmen, four sophomores and one junior. Collectively, their 30-man roster is made up of players from six different states and six countries.

“The guys are real quality people,” Poggi said. “They’re young so they’re going to make young mistakes, but they’re also very keen and very excited by the opportunity. I really think that any one of them is capable of being a leader at any time.”

This isn’t coach Poggi’s first inaugural soccer season. He started a Division I women’s soccer program in Louisiana along with two professional men’s indoor soccer franchises. Poggi was the assistant general manager and head coach of the two franchises.

“I got an opportunity to see a lot of, not just coaching, but the building of the foundation of the team and the institution it was in,” Poggi said.

The Wildcats will begin the season in Missouri against the University of Missouri-St. Louis at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4.

They will lace up at NMU for their Marquette debut at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16 against Lake Erie College.

After months of preparation, the new Division II men’s soccer team will attempt to make a name for themselves and their university.

“Everything for us this year is historic. The first game will be historic, even if it’s away,” Poggi said. “The first home game will be historic. The first goal scored, for or against, will be historic.”