Ball movement key in season opening win

%0AMembers+of+the+NMU+Men%E2%80%99s+Soccer+Team+huddle+at+midfield.+The+team+looks+to+maintain+its+early-season+momentum+against+Quincy+University%2C+the+third+consecutive+team+the+Wildcats+will+meet+for+the+first+time.+%0APhoto+courtesy+of+NMU+athletics%2FNW

Members of the NMU Men’s Soccer Team huddle at midfield. The team looks to maintain its early-season momentum against Quincy University, the third consecutive team the Wildcats will meet for the first time. Photo courtesy of NMU athletics/NW

Nate Bellville

The Northern Michigan University Men’s Soccer team settled for a split last weekend, losing their regular season debut at home against the Mercyhurst University Lakers, 2-0. The Wildcats bounced back by winning their opening road game of the season against the Southern Indiana University Screaming Eagles, 2-0.

“We played two very good games, especially with teams we haven’t faced before,” head coach David Poggi said.
NMU pulled out to a 5-2 shot advantage early in the first half against Mercyhurst. However, the Lakers found the back of the net midway through the first half at the 21:55 mark to make it 1-0.

The Lakers recorded another goal at 60:51 with the Wildcats outshooting Mercyhurst 10-7 in the game. Junior goalkeeper Brayden Wilinski registered two saves and sophomore midfielder Luca Lippert led the team with two shots on goal.

“The results, for me, at the start of this season are determined by how we respond to challenges. We let in two good goals and we didn’t respond well,” Poggi said on the loss.

Against Southern Indiana, a fast first half start saw an early Wildcat goal scored by senior forward Sam Popp on the first shot of the game off a header sent from senior forward Nic Herenda. Popp notched his second goal of the game four minutes into the second half, scoring on another header after catching a long cross from junior midfielder Edgar Astorga. Popp’s multi-goal game would make it the program’s second two-goal performance in team history, with the only other performance coming from sophomore Ben Hoffman back in October 2016.

Freshman Patrick Restum’s seven saves against the Screaming Eagles helped the Wildcats earn their first shutout victory of the season, bringing NMU to a 1-1 record to start the season.

“We’re starting to figure out that it’s not always a race, but sometimes it’s about finishing first,” said Poggi.
The Wildcats will return home for another non-conference tune-up game next weekend against another Great Lakes Valley Conference opponent. Quincy University will come to NMU for a Sunday afternoon matchup scheduled at 1 p.m. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

Poggi said the team will be prepared for Quincy’s dynamic offensive game plan.

“They are an attack-minded team, and they have potential to score lots of goals,” Poggi said. “We’re going to have to be on our best behavior defensively to be able to nullify some of their attacks.”

This is the third game in a row NMU is playing an opponent for the first time. Quincy University comes into Sunday’s matchup with a 1-1 after a win vs the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.