Men’s Soccer finishes inaugural season

Steven Losiowski

The Wildcat’s hope of a Cinderella story came to an end after failing to defeat the top two teams in the conference in their final two games of the regular season.

re-menssoccer-ssWhen all was said and done, two victories for the ’Cats would have brought them to the conference finals in their inaugural season. They would have played for a spot in the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament.

The first game of their must-win road trip was against the conference leaders, No. 22 Saginaw Valley State Cardinals. The nationally ranked team drew first blood with a goal by Matt Wilson in the 26th minute and ended the first half strong with a strike by Troy Watson in the 45th minute.

In the 67th minute, freshman defenseman Ívar Árnason put Northern on the board with his third successful penalty kick of the season. Shortly after a prime scoring chance for the Wildcats, Saginaw Valley’s Azaad Liadi destroyed all hopes of an NMU upset and a conference playoff berth when he snuck one past freshman goaltender Filippo Torelli with under seven minutes left in the game, finalizing a 3-1 Cardinals victory.

“It was heartbreaking for sure.” said sophomore center back Kevin Hoof. “After the game I think everybody felt it. Everybody was heartbroken and everyone was disappointed that the season was over.” Less than 48 hours later, they took on the Northwood Timberwolves where they were dominated in their last game of the season. The Wildcats lost 3-0 recording only one shot whereas the Timberwolves recorded 14, six of which were on goal.

Northern’s first ever Men’s Soccer team ends its inaugural season placing seventh out of nine in the GLIAC with a conference record of 5-9-2 and an overall record of 5-10-2. They had to place at least fourth to make the conference playoffs and win them to go to the NCAA tournament.

Freshman midfielder Sveinn Karlsson led the team with four goals and five assists while Torelli finished with 60 saves.

Freshman forward Ben Hoffman said that a lot of team chemistry has been built since the start of the season.

“We competed with the best teams in the GLIAC,” Hoffman said. “Time will tell, but next season I think we will make the tournament.”

Hoffman isn’t the only one with confidence moving forward. Head coach David Poggi has good things to say about the team as well.

“I think our first 15 or 16 players are as good as anybody in the country and that in itself is a testament to the commitment and the hard work the guys are willing to put in,” Poggi said.

“[Next season] we’ll have the same goals from the beginning that we had this year, which is to win the championship, and I think with the lessons learned. The work that we do over the next eight to 10 months, we’ll be in a good position to do that.”