Men’s soccer prepares to enter third season

Junior+midfielder+Nick+Metcalfe+receives+a+pass+while+his+teammates%2C+senior+defenseman+Kevin+Hoof+%28right%29+and+junior+goalkeeper+Filippo+Torelli+%28left%29+look+on.%0APhoto+by%3A+Lindsey+Eaton

Junior midfielder Nick Metcalfe receives a pass while his teammates, senior defenseman Kevin Hoof (right) and junior goalkeeper Filippo Torelli (left) look on. Photo by: Lindsey Eaton

Alex Skinner

Entering its third season as
a varsity sport, the Northern
Michigan University Men’s
Soccer team can finally begin to
rely on upperclassman experience.
The Wildcats returned every
player from last year’s 6-11-2
squad to go along with a handful
of incoming freshmen.

Scoring depth was an issue at
times last season, an area that
junior defenseman Eric Suess
says has been worked upon this
offseason.

“The team has worked a lot on

every aspect of the game, especially the physical part during the

off season,” said Suess. “Another
aspect is playing out of the back
and creating more chances which

we were lacking during the season.”

Returning this season for NMU
is junior forward Ben Hoffman
who missed a significant amount
of time last year after suffering
a wrist injury during the third
game of the season. Hoffman was
projected to be a leading scorer
for the Wildcats a season ago
after appearing in all 17 games

his freshman season and scoring six goals. A healthy Hoffman

would be a promising catalyst for
the Wildcats.

Joining Hoffman on attack is
senior midfielder and captain
Sam Popp, the team’s leader in
goals, assists and points from last

year. Popp’s six goals on the season were tied for fourth-most in

the conference while his 15 points
were also tied for fourth-most
in the GLIAC. Popp recorded
a career-high four points versus
Ashland a season ago, registering

a goal and assisting on two others. Popp also scored three points

against Marygrove with one goal
and one assist.

The Wildcats will look to improve their goal production if

they hope to compete in a tough
GLIAC conference. As a team the

Wildcats scored 21 goals through
19 games.

“I expect the whole team to improve offensively in order to score

more goals,” said Suess. “Players
like Popp and Hoffman will be a
key part in this.”

Junior midfielder Sveinn Karlsson joins Popp as a team captain

and looks to improve his role in
the offensive scheme. Karlsson
tallied two goals last season, his

first goal of the season came versus Missouri-St. Louis and his second happening in a three-point

effort against Notre Dame (OH),
also adding an assist.

Suess is anchoring the defense

again this season after starting 18 of 19 games a year ago.

He is joined on the back end by

team captain, senior defenseman
Kevin Hoof. Hoof appeared in
18 contests last season, recording
career-highs in goals and points.

Hoof scored two goals to total
four points in 2017 with his first
goal of the season happening at
Saginaw Valley and his second
against Ashland.

“Obviously the captains will be
leaders and role models for the

whole team,” said Suess. “However, I think every player who was

a part of this program for the last
couple of years will step up and
lead the incoming freshmen and
younger players.”

The Wildcats will start junior
goalkeeper Filippo Torelli in net
once again, hoping for another
standout season from him. Torelli
allowed 24 goals on the season

resulting in a 1.35 goals-against-average, both of which were

fourth-best in the league. His 60
saves and .714 save percentage
were good enough for third
and fourth-best in the GLIAC.

Torelli’s 6-9-2 overall record
tied for the fifth most wins in
the conference and were also a
career-high. The sophomore also
had the fourth most shutouts in
the GLIAC with four.

Northern Michigan will try
their luck at another GLIAC

Tournament appearance while

looking to improve on last season’s result.

In the team’s GLIAC Tournament appearance a year ago,

the Wildcat’s picked up its first
tournament victory in program

history by defeating Tiffin University 2-1 on goals from Popp

and sophomore forward Birkir
Baldursson. The ’Cats would lose

in the semifinals to Saginaw Valley State University 1-0 on a late

second half goal.

The Wildcats kick their season

off Friday, August 24 in an exhibition matchup against the Wisconsin-Superior Yellow Jackets in a

home meeting.