NMU men’s soccer ready to take a leap

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Ryan Spitza

The NMU men’s soccer team took major strides in its inaugural season posting an overall record of 5-10-2, having three players earn GLIAC Player of the Week honors and competing for the fourth and final playoff spot in the GLIAC tournament on the final weekend of the season.

Head coach David Poggi wants to go even further as the team approaches its second season this fall.

While Poggi has zero interaction with his players in the summertime, he said it’s still a hectic time of year to prepare for the upcoming season in the fall.

“You transition from insanity to a different type of insanity in the spring,” Poggi said. “Everything is good, there’s just a lot of work to be done.”

Preparing for the upcoming season though can pose challenges however, with no players on campus to hold any practice or off-season training sessions.

“It makes it extremely difficult without having athletes on campus,” Poggi said. “It’s a real disadvantage for us relative to other teams that are able to have their players on campus for summer.”

The Wildcats have a young and diverse roster, with athletes hailing from Germany, Iceland, Italy, Slovenia and the United States, 21 of the 26 players on the roster will be sophomores with only one senior on the team in goalkeeper Brin Lapuh.

“Every player who’s returning for our first year of having any history I’m excited for,” Poggi said. “The guys worked very hard during the spring, we already know how hard they worked in the fall so the guys that are returning, I’m excited for them and I’m excited for us.”

Poggi has a reason to be excited. With five of the top six Wildcat point getters returning for the second year.

Sophomore midfielder Sveinn Karlsson tallied 13 points for the Wildcats last year, leading the team in scoring and good enough for 12th in the GLIAC in overall points.
Other leading scorers returning for the Wildcats are all sophomores, Ben Hoffman, Edgar Astorga, Eric Seuss and Nick Metcalfe.

Poggi said the experience of those players as well as the short history of the program will help the incoming recruits’ transition.

“I’m excited about having the history of the last year and to see if that will help us achieve our goals in this next phase,” Poggi said. “Having players who have been through it once now will help the newcomers come in, transition quicker and hopefully be able to focus on the things that are important during the season.”

For fans that want to come out and support this season, Poggi said a good fan environment is important to him and is something he’s going to work on this season. One way to do that is by connecting with as many students, faculty, staff and community members as possible.

“In this sport in particular because there’s not as many interruptions in the game, the fans can play an integral role in the outcome of every contest,” Poggi said. “I would encourage people who understand that to take my challenge and see if that actually works. We’re going to try to create an environment for our spectators that will allow them to do that.”

While Poggi encouraged support for his own team, he said he wants that support to expand across all university athletics.

“It’s going to be an exciting year for all NMU sports,” Poggi said. “I would encourage soccer fans to go watch volleyball and volleyball fans to go watch soccer and so on; I think that’s what’s going to push us as an athletic department to create that excitement. We’re all in this together.”

The Wildcats open the season with two games on the road in Grand Rapids against Indianapolis on Aug. 31 before facing Missouri-St. Louis on Sept. 2. The Wildcats then return to the Superior Dome outdoor fields for a four-game home stand beginning on Sept. 7 against Upper Iowa.

The Wildcats’ first GLIAC match will be at home against Saginaw Valley State on Sept. 15. When asked about conference title hopes, Poggi didn’t hesitate in the slightest.
SoccaMens
“I have no doubt this team can compete for a GLIAC championship in this upcoming season,” Poggi said. “I will look forward to any fan and tell them they will see us compete
for a championship.”