Men’s soccer begins conference play


KICKING BACK—The Wildcats had two tough losses last weekend to Lewis and Lake Erie, now they look to get back on track with homecoming vs. Purdue-Northwest on Friday, and a match Sunday against Upper Iowa University. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

The NMU Men’s Soccer team battled its way through two tough matches this past weekend, but they came up on the losing end of both. The Wildcats lost a home game 2-1 to the Lewis University (LU) Flyers in a double overtime thriller last Thursday night, a match that wasn’t decided until the 108th minute. NMU then traveled to Grand Rapids on Sunday, and lost 1-0 on a neutral site against the Lake Erie College (LEC) Storm. Even with being on the wrong side of the results, head coach David Poggi found positives that the team can build off for the rest of the season.

“Just the experience, we’ve got 10 new guys on the team, and some of them are playing regularly,” Poggi said. “Looking at these matches, which were good matches, Lewis and Lake Erie are undefeated, both will be regionally ranked, [it’s] good preparation for what we have in store for us in the conference.”

Along with just true game experience, Poggi also recognized the challenges that their opponents have given them throughout the start of the young campaign.

  “Even in the one we won, it was exciting, if we wouldn’t have had the football team cheering us in those last few minutes, I don’t know if we had enough left in the tank.” Poggi said.

The Wildcats went toe-to-toe with Lewis, forcing double overtime against the Flyers, a team that Poggi knew was going to be a tough opponent to play against.

“Lewis is always gonna be good, they’re hard workers, and they were undefeated at the time,” Poggi said. “Playing at home is a little different than playing away, and when you’re at home you obviously want to do your best, there’s that added pressure.”

It was also a tough turn around to play against Lake Erie, who is now ranked 16th in the country, and only lost 1-0 after a goal in the third minute by the Storm. Poggi said it was a physical match, and that it is only going to help his team get ready for conference play. Poggi also brought up the parity in the conference, where it didn’t matter who played, it was going to be a close match.

NMU now will turn its attention to this weekend, where they host the Purdue-Northwest University (PNWU) Pride on Friday, Sept. 20 as part of this year’s homecoming festivities. The Wildcats will then have a short couple of days to rest before they face the Upper Iowa University Peacocks on Sunday, Sept. 22. Sometimes, homecoming can be a distraction for teams, but for this team, who hasn’t played in a homecoming game since 2015, they are ready to embrace it.

“I was hired in 2015 and I went to the homecoming here and it was great, a great crowd, the whole experience of homecoming here was magical,” Poggi said. “Every year since then, we’ve been on the road for homecoming, so I don’t remember it well enough or have experience of my players here doing homecoming. I think as long as we’re focused it’ll only be an advantage to play here, and to play two matches, I think we’re ready           for that.”

Kickoff between the Wildcats and Pride will be at 4 p.m. from the NMU Outdoor Soccer Fields on Friday, Sept. 20.