Wildcats lose final home game

Wildcats+lose+final+home+game

Levi Erkkila

The Northern Michigan University Women’s Soccer team played their final home games of the season this past weekend. The Wildcats hoped to end a four-game losing streak against The University of Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers (UWP) on Friday, Oct. 12. A late goal from UWP sent NMU home with a 2-1 loss. Sunday, Oct. 14, was senior day and Northern seniors looked to end their final home game with a victory over the Purdue Northwest (PNW) Pride. The PNW found the net late in the game to take a 1-0 win. Two late goals handed the Wildcats their fifth and sixth straight loss.

To start the game Friday, NMU controlled the midfield. The ‘Cats were able to convert multiple Ranger turnovers into offense that led to early Wildcat chances on net. UWP struggled to get through the compact Northern defense. The Rangers changed strategies and began sending balls over the top of the NMU midfielders. This caused the Wildcat defense to back off opening up the middle of the field giving room to the UWP attackers.

Northern’s game plan began falling apart in the later stages of the first half. Sloppy play from the ‘Cats gave way to a couple of chances for the Ranges. In the 38th minute, UWP capitalized on a corner kick to take a 1-0 lead. NMU responded just seven minutes later.

In the 45th minute, shortly before the first half whistle, freshman midfielder Caroline Halonen took a corner kick that connected with the head of junior defender Gaelin Hirabayashi who bounced the ball past the Parkside goalie. The first half ended with the score tied 1-1 and an 8-7 shot total in favor of the Wildcats.

Poor judgment again began plaguing the Wildcats in the second half. UWP controlled the ball for the majority of the second half creating opportunities to score. Northern struggled to get out of their own end, as Wildcat fatigue began setting in. Turnovers hurt the Wildcats again in the 82nd minute as the Ranger’s Chloe Couves scored on a shot from outside of the box that beat senior goalkeeper Emma Vermette in the top left corner of the net to take a 2-1 lead. Northern had chances in the final minutes of the match but failed to tie the game. NMU fell 2-1.

Parkside attempted 15 shots with nine on target while the Wildcats had 13 shots with five of those testing the UWP netminder.

On senior day, the Wildcats came out in the first half with urgency and desperation. NMU controlled the ball in the midfield and created chances by sending long balls up to the forwards. Vermette kept the score at zero when she stopped a clear PNW breakaway in the 19th minute. NMU attacked the box but could not get a foot on the ball. The Wildcats and Pride would head into the end of the first half locked at zero with the ‘Cats holding a 12-5 shot advantage.

In the second half, NMU had a strong build-up on the outside, getting the ball deep into the PNW end but were unable to sustain any constant pressure. A free kick in the 64th minute off the boot of freshman forward Taelor Moore hit the crossbar, and the score stayed tied. The Wildcats sent numbers forward putting pressure on the Pride defense.

In the late stages of the game, the NMU defenders could not clear the ball from the front of their net. A pass was intercepted by the Pride’s Shelby Ross well outside the box and she sent a shot toward the net that beat Vermette. The ball hit the goalpost high on the right and dropped across the goal line giving Purdue a 1-0 lead in the 76th minute.

With five minutes left in the game, Northern had their chances to score right in front of the PNW goal, but could not even the score and would lose the game. The Wildcats controlled most of the play, outshooting the Pride 22-9.

NMU will finish the 2018 season with three road matches. The Wildcats travel first to Ashland University for a 5 p.m. matchup on Friday, Oct. 19. From there, NMU will take on Saginaw Valley State University at noon on Sunday, Oct. 21, before turning their attention to their rivals, Michigan Tech University, on Friday, Oct. 26.

The ‘Cats are fighting for a playoff chance with one week left.