MARQUETTE - Despite beginning its season with five consecutive losses, the Northern Michigan University women's soccer team has begun to find confidence and success with two wins, a tie and one loss in the last two weekends of play.
"We didn't really make changes, it's just progress," NMU head coach Matt Granstrand said. "You add new players, and you have to get comfortable. That takes time."
The Wildcats suffered the death of a teammate last November, and Granstrand said it has taken awhile for the players to refocus on the game.
"I think the team is dealing with lots of emotions from everything in the past year," Granstrand said. "Our focus still comes and goes."
Although the record did not reflect it, Granstrand said the team played well enough to win any of its first five games. Luck was just not in favor of the Wildcats, he said.
The 'Cats enter this weekend's conference matchups at home against Northwood at 4 p.m. on Friday and against Saginaw Valley State at noon on Sunday with a 2-6-1 overall record and a 2-1-1 record in GLIAC play.
Granstrand said many of the teams in the GLIAC are equally matched.
"I think we're playing the best soccer we've played in a lot of years here, it's just the teams we play are very good too," Granstrand said. "The reality is, if we play hard and show up from the very beginning, good things will happen."
NMU is a talented team, but also a young team, Granstrand said. Two of the three offensive starters for the Wildcats are freshman. Freshman Paula Hafner four goals and 11 points are both team highs.
"Beginning of the year, we'd shoot and hit the post. Now we shoot and it goes in," Granstrand said. "Same performance, just a different result."
"You have to have success to be confident. Once you have success and you're confident, then you start to play better.
Freshman goalie Caroline Glantz said the 'Cats made some adjustments to tighten up defensively, and it has helped them let in fewer goals early.
Glantz said the team's sights are set on playing in the NCAA tournament this year. The Wildcats are all motivated to win, she said.
"We have a stronger ground to stand on and we can attack together," Glantz said. "Every game is getting better because we're getting more and more confident."