Soccer Season Recap; First Appearance in NCAA Tournament
MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University women’s soccer team had quite a year as it qualified for its first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history. The ‘Cats finished 9-6-5 overall and 8-4-3 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). NMU finished second in the GLIAC North Division and third place overall.
The Wildcats were 6-2-3 at home and 3-4-2 away from Marquette which included a 0-2 mark at neutral site locations. The ‘Cats started the season with a 10 game unbeaten streak (6-0-4). NMU was ranked in the Top 25 twice during the streak and climbed as high as No. 19 during the week of Oct. 5.
“We played so many home games and we’re good at home. We also won the tight games.” Head coach Matt Granstrand said about the streak. “Confidence builds and the next thing you know you run up a good streak of wins.”
During the run the ‘Cats defeated then No. 2 ranked and eventual national champion, Grand Valley State (1-0) at home on a free kick in overtime. With the win NMU broke the Lakers streak of 65 unbeaten regular season games and 43 unbeaten conference matches. The win also gave head coach Matt Granstrand his 100th career collegiate win.
The ‘Cats lost their first game to Findlay (0-1) on Oct. 8 and then brought their losing streak to three with losses to Tiffin (0-2) and Grand Valley (0-2).
NMU finished 2-1-1 to end the regular season. NMU defeated Michigan Tech (Oct. 30) 2-1 in overtime in the last regular season game to finish third in the conference and host a GLIAC quarterfinal game from the Outdoor Fields.
NMU defeated Ferris 4-3 in the first round of the GLIAC Tournament after the teams had tied both of the regular season games with only one goal scored by each team. The ‘Cats traveled to Grand Valley and lost to Tiffin (0-2) in the GLIAC semifinal.
The ‘Cats were selected as the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Midwest region and traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to take on No. 3 seeded Northern Kentucky. The ‘Cats and Norse were tied at half but the Norse were too strong in the second half, winning 4-0 to end NMU’s season.
“It was fantastic making the NCAA. I’m very proud of the girls. It was a lot of fun and it was one of our team goals and now we can up the goals for next year.” Granstrand said.
Dana Stephens led the ‘Cats with 11 goals for the second consecutive season. She also chipped in three assists. She was tied for fourth in the GLIAC in game-winning goals with three. Kari Buckel led the team with six assists and added five goals for the season. Amelia Johnson was second on the team in scoring with nine goals on the year. Eight of her goals came in conference play which was good enough for a fifth place tie in the GLIAC.
Jessica Baker ended the season with a 1.03 goal-against average and a .861 save-percentage which ranked her second in the conference. She also posted three shutouts. Baker earned GLIAC Women’s Soccer Athlete of the Week with her performance against Grand Valley State. She tallied eight saves against GVSU and recorded six saves in a 0-0 tie (2OT) with Ferris State that same week. Teammate Dana Bush also saw time in goal playing in nine contests. Bush recorded 38 saves on the year.
NMU placed four players on the 2010 All-GLIAC Women’s Soccer Team as Baker earned first team selection honors while Johnson, Stephens and Buckel all were second team All-GLIAC selections.
NMU had four seniors on the team. Kari Buckel, Dana Bush, Anne Speers and Dana Stephens all finished up their careers as wildcats.
“Our senior class was a wonderful and classy group that we’re going to miss. They were great leaders all season and were the reason we had the success we had this year.” Grandstrand said.
“We have almost everybody returning combined with a good recruiting class and a favorable schedule. We have great potential. We just have to remember that potential is a dangerous word.”
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