Bulldogs bite Wildcats

Second half burst lifts Duluth strikers over NMU women

Northern Michigan University sophomore forward Jenna Halomen races upfield during the first half in a game against Minnesota Duluth Sunday at the NMU soccer field. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

MARQUETTE — Sometimes in soccer, all it takes is one mistake and your fate is sealed.

That’s what happened to the Northern Michigan University women’s soccer team Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats couldn’t clear out the ball during a second half scramble and Minnesota Duluth put it into the net to end a scoreless tie.

Just a few seconds before the final horn, the Bulldogs scored again to help nail down a 2-0 victory and handing NMU its first loss of the year.

“Those are one of the tough ones (Duluth’s first goal) and that’s why you never let anything drop in the box because then it’s a 50-50 ball and that’s a dangerous area,” NMU head coach Sonia Basma said.

“So we got a little bit unlucky with that, but I think overall, we dictated play today. We couldn’t capitalize on our chances.”

In the second half, UMD started to find some openings in the Wildcats defense as it outshot Northern 11-5 in the frame. Shortly before the Bulldogs (1-1) scored their first goal, a Duluth forward got free on a breakaway before she was taken down in front of the goal. The Bulldogs did capitalize on their next opportunity though.

In the 65th minute, a corner kick deflected off two players in front and NMU goalkeeper Brianna Frontuto denied the first shot, but the rebound went right to Duluth’s Julia Osborne and she kicked it into the open net.

The Wildcats (1-1) had two good chances to tie the game at 1-1 with the first one coming in the 76th minute when freshman Natalie Stampfly found senior Aimee Colla in front of the UMD net, but a Bulldogs defender just got her leg on the ball to deflect it out.

With three minutes remaining in the half, Northern had a beautiful chance as Colla sent a cross pass in front to Jenna Halonen, who tried to head the ball into the net, but Duluth goalie Carlye Wright collided with Halonen in mid-air and tipped the ball away from the Wildcats forward.

That’s the closest the Wildcats got to forcing a draw as the Bulldogs’ Erika Hjort got the ball off a corner kick with 31 seconds remaining and slipped it past Frontuto for Duluth’s second goal. Frontuto finished with three saves.

The second half may have gone Duluth’s way, but the Wildcats controlled play in the first half. NMU outshot the Bulldogs 6-4 in the frame and its best scoring opportunities came from Colla and freshman forward Taelor Moore. 20 minutes into the half, Moore got a shot on net from a good angle, but Wright made a diving save at the far corner.

With six minutes remaining, Moore sent a pass to Colla near the left sideline in the Duluth defensive zone.

Colla then weaved her way back to the middle and fired a nice shot on net that Wright just got her fingertips on to deflect the ball wide of the net.

When asked if her team would focus on anything in particular in practice before its upcoming road trip, Basma said it will primarily be on getting the players to connect and communicate with each other.

“I think different players are on different pages right now, but that’s okay,” she said.

“We have seven freshmen out there, so they’re still learning to play with each other.

“It’s going to take time, and that’s fine because we look at these failures as feedback and we build off it.”

NMU now heads out to play Southern Indiana at Purdue-Northwest’s field on Thursday and will then take on Lewis Sunday.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.