Wildcat men hope to build on soccer tourney win at end of last season

MARQUETTE — Following a home exhibition shutout last week, the Northern Michigan University men’s soccer team opens its regular season at home Thursday before hitting the road for a long trip to Evansville, Indiana, this weekend.

The Wildcats host Mercyhurst at 3 p.m. Thursday at the NMU Soccer Field, then play at Southern Indiana at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Both are nonconference contests.

Several online links can keep fans up to date — for game programs, something new this fall, visit http://www.nmuwildcats.com/programs; for Twitter updates, visit https://twitter.com/NMU_Wildcats; for live statistics, visit https://bit.ly/2w75iAz for Thursday’s match and https://bit.ly/2w9Mbpy for Sunday’s; and for live video, visit https://bit.ly/2gKCaqA for Thursday’s game and http://glvcsn.com/ for Sunday’s.

NMU defeated Wisconsin-Superior 5-0 at home in an exhibition held Friday, with senior forward Sam Popp and sophomore forward Ben Hoffman each getting a goal and an assist and junior Brayden Wilinski and freshman Patrick Restum sharing in the shutout in goal.

Northern could prove to be a potent offense this fall with 10 of their 11 point scorers returning, including Popp, who led the team in scoring with 15 points on six goals and three assists.

Junior midfielder Sveinn Karlsson and senior defender Kevin Hoof scored multiple goals in 2017, while senior forward Nic Harenda share top assists last year with Popp.

Wilinski is the lone returning goalkeeper who saw time last year, having played 160 minutes with a 1.68 goals-against average and .625 saves percentage. Freshman Cole Sing also returns after redshirting last year.

Third-year head coach David Poggi has an 11-21-4 record, including 6-11-2 overall and 2-9-1 in the GLIAC in 2017. He still guided Northern to its first postseason appearance last fall, when the Wildcats pulled off an upset at Tiffin, 1-0, for their first postseason victory in the second year of the program’s existence.

With this week’s opponents, this will Northern’s first meeting with former GLIAC member Mercyhurst after it was 12-6 last year in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

NMU has also never faced Southern Indiana as the Screaming Eagles were 11-7-1 in 2017 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.