MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan soccer is coming off its first NCAA Tournament birth in school history as head coach Matt Granstrand leads the Wildcats into his eighth season in Marquette.
NMU started 2010 on a 10-game unbeaten streak and finished 9-6-5 and 8-4-3 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Last season saw the ‘Cats defeat eventual national champion Grand Valley State in overtime at home and finish in the NCAA II Tournament.
The ‘Cats return nine starters and 15 letterwinners from last season’s squad.
“We lost some of our strong senior leaders, but we return the core of our team,” head coach Matt Granstrand said. “This year’s seniors will have to step up and lead the team.”
NMU returns junior goalkeeper Jessica Baker (1.03 goals against, .861 save percentage), a first team all-GLIAC selection in 2010. Baker had three shutouts and a record of 7-4-5.
On offense, the ‘Cats return forward Amelia Johnson. The junior was second on the team in goals (9) and points (18) and was also a second team all-GLIAC selection.
NMU also welcomes in transfer Chelsea Lyons. The senior forward spent three seasons at NCAA Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay. She won the Horizon League Newcomer award in 2007 and was a two-time Horizon League all-conference player (2008 and 2009).
“Chelsea is a fantastic athlete who will bring a strong presence upfront,” Granstrand said.
The ‘Cats also return three starting defensemen who have started a combined 118 games in the past two seasons with seniors Missy Mohr and Aurora Jackson and junior Becky Schmidt. The three players combined for seven points and 19 shots on goal last season.
NMU was selected second in the GLIAC North Division Preseason Poll behind defending NCAA II National Champions Grand Valley State.
“Our goal every season is to qualify for the GLIAC Tournament,” Granstrand said. “We believe that our tough schedule will prepare us for the difficult conference stretch.”
The ‘Cats open the season on the road against Minnesota-Duluth on Sept. 1 before coming home for a two-game weekend welcoming Minnesota-Crookston and Bemidji State.
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Sports Information Assistant