Wildcats in the win column

NMU women wait till end to take first lead and victory of season

Northwood University’s Ashton Brooks tries to keep the ball away from Northern Michigan University’s Ashleigh Hansen Sunday afternoon, Sept. 17, 2017, at NMU. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — Sonia Basma earned her first win as Northern Michigan University women’s soccer coach after the Wildcats shut out Northwood 2-0 at the NMU Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon.

The Wildcats got late goals from Aimee Colla and Jenna Halonen to gets its first victory of the season.

Basma said the second-half surge was overdue.

“I think we dragged it out a lot longer than we should have, but the girls came through and produced today so I’m happy,” she said.

After an even first half with NMU (1-5) taking six shots on goal to the Timberwolves’ five, the Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, dominating in possession and scoring chances.

In the 47th minute, Northern’s Hollie Koning sent a shot wide of the goal. Ten minutes later, Colla took a shot that was stopped by Northwood goalkeeper Julia Luzod.

Halonen led the way up front for the Wildcats, breaking free multiple times, but each time being denied by Luzod.

In the 85th minute, the Wildcats were awarded a penalty kick after a Northwood hand-ball foul. Colla sent the kick high over the net and the match remained scoreless.

With the crowd and team visibly frustrated that nothing seemed to be going in, it was only 55 seconds after the penalty kick that Colla redeemed herself.

Halonen found Colla on a crossover and Colla headed it into the net to give the Wildcats their first lead of the season and send the crowd cheering.

Colla said she was relieved to make up for the penalty kick mishap and also getting their first win of the season.

“I’m glad I was able to not let it get to me too much and I was able to capitalize on it and finish for us,” she said. “It just felt great to finally get a win and coach’s first win for the program.

“As a team we’ve been working so hard since preseason and it feels great, so hopefully now we’re going to go straight up instead of what we were doing and I’m really excited for the future.”

In the 89th minute, the Wildcats were awarded another penalty kick and Halonen sent it high over the head of Luzod and into the net for an insurance goal.

Basma commented on the frustration of the scoreless first half and not being able to finish until the very end.

“Going into the half ‘nil-nil,’ we were a bit frustrated obviously, but we knew this was our game to take and we got it done,” she said.

NMU midfielder Abby Cook said the offensive performance was the highlight of the day.

“I think we took it play by play but we stuck together and we really improved a lot offensively this game, just pushing up and pressuring and really stringing together those passes,” she said.

Cook also praised Colla and Halonen.

“I had no doubt Aimee (Colla) was going to score after missing that penalty kick, that’s just her as a hard worker and as a player, she’s going to get right back on her feet and finish that off for us,” Cook said.

“Our freshman, Jenna (Halonen), coming out and finishing a penalty kick like that just boosts our confidence as a whole team and she has a lovely career ahead of her.”

NMU recorded 11 second-half shots to finish with 17. Northwood (2-4) got four second-half shots for a total of nine. Corner kicks were 4-3 in favor of the Wildcats and one yellow card was handed out, to Northwood in the second half.

Despite playing two GLIAC opponents over the weekend, the games were considered nonconference.

The Wildcats begin GLIAC play with road games at Purdue Northwest (0-4) on Friday and Davenport (4-2) Sunday.

Email Ryan Spitza at sports@miningjournal.net.