Women’s soccer splits Minnesota road trip

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FRONTUTO LEADS ‘CATS—The junior goalie had 12 saves in two games. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

The NMU Women’s Soccer team kicked off their season this past weekend, and they would go on to split its two games at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (U-MD) and St. Cloud State University (SCSU). Coach Sonia Basma thought her team played hard, but had slow starts of momentum at the beginning of both games, as expected early in the season.

“I thought we had a bit of a slow start to begin with against Duluth initially, but played a lot better in that second half, both were very good teams, so [it was a] really good opening weekend for us,” Basma said. “But obviously against St. Cloud we did a lot better, but again a slower start for us to begin with and then picked it up in that second half, but in the first couple games it’s always tough with your team trying to find its groove and what not, but a decent start.”

U-MD defeated NMU 1-0 in a tough match that was decided by the result of a penalty kick late in the first half. In year’s past, Basma thought her team was even with U-MD, but they were outplayed in the last 10 minutes that resulted in a losing outcome. Though they came up short once again versus the Bulldogs, Basma thought her team was ready this time to play hard the full course of 90 minutes. 

“I actually think this is one of the fittest teams that I’ve coached so far here at Northern, and we’re really fast both defensively and on the attacking end, and it showed against Duluth, I was really happy with that,” Basma said. “We really put them under pressure, unfortunately, the deciding factor in that match was a free-kick and we fell asleep for a second and they capitalized on it, rightfully so on their end. But we made adjustments and fixed that come Sunday against St. Cloud. One of the biggest things we’ve been telling our athletes is that if we’re going to lose a match, we’re not going to lose a match this year getting outworked, not under my watch.”

The Wildcats responded and picked up a 2-0 win over SCSU, scoring two goals in the second half to pull away. Basma made halftime adjustments and the ’Cats came away with the victory.

“We were kind of caught a little bit with just trying to play long balls, just forcing things in that first half,” Basma said. “After that halftime talk we just talked out our adjustments we needed to make and the girls went out and executed.”

Junior goalkeeper Brianna Frontuto had a great weekend for NMU, where she stopped 12 shots in two games, including a penalty kick against SCSU. Basma was impressed by her netminder and was happy that the team capitalized after her penalty save.

“[Frontuto] was awesome for us. Both of these sides are very good on the attacking end, and they’ll put you under a lot of pressure,” Basma said. “She came up big with a lot of great saves, both teams tested us in that final third,and she did very well, and we actually had a penalty kick against St. Cloud that she saved, which is awesome. And again five minutes later, the team responded and put another one into the back of the net.”

The Wildcats’ next challenge is the Wiwona State University (WSU) Warriors in their home opener on Friday, Sept. 13. Basma thinks they are similar to some familiar opponents.

“Wiwona is just like the other Minnesota teams, they’re really big, fast and strong girls. They’ll come at you,” Basma said. ‘They’re not shy on the attacking end, they’re very aggressive, but I think we’ve really found our groove in the backline because we also have really fast defenders that if they hit those long balls, we’re able to track back because we’ve got speed. It’s going to be a similar opponent to St. Cloud and Duluth, we just need to work our butts off and execute our gameplan.”

Northern takes their home field for the first time when they battle WSU at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13 from the NMU Outdoor Soccer Fields. They also have a home game at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15 when they play their first GLIAC match against Northwood University (NU) Timberwolves.