Wildcats lacrosse clinches first ever GLIAC Tournament bid

By RYAN SPITZA

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE — Win and get in.

That was the implication going into Saturday’s lacrosse game between Northern Michigan University and Ashland at the Superior Dome.

Fighting for the sixth and final seed in the GLIAC Tournament, the Wildcats prevailed, snapping a five-game skid with a 24-6 over the Eagles and clinching the first postseason berth in program history.

Junior midfielder Graison Ringlever led the Wildcats with a seven-goal performance and also marked another individual milestone, scoring her 100th collegiate goal. That’s the second time she hit the 100-club this season after earning her 100th career point two weeks ago.

Northern head coach Emilia Ward said it was her team’s best game of the season, crediting an all-around performance on the offensive and defensive ends.

“There’s nothing like finishing the regular season with probably your best game,” she said. “The first half was definitely the best 30 minutes we’ve seen all season on both sides of the ball.

“Usually, we maybe had one side of the ball having a good game and the other side needing a little time. I think we came out a little excited (today) and they wanted to win for the seniors.”

For the four seniors on the NMU roster, it was the final time taking the turf at the Superior Dome.

“Emotions were definitely high,” said senior attacker Megan Palacio. “A lot of us have been here for three years plus being on the club team. It was a bittersweet ending, but it was a great way to end, and we get to continue to play on.”

Playing on is something Ward is obviously happy about too, but on top of that, the Wildcats managed to double their win total from last season, finishing with an overall mark of 4-11 with a 3-8 record in GLIAC contests.

“Obviously this win puts our program in a position its never been in with doubling our win total,” she said. “On top of that now, we made it to the postseason, which was ultimately our goal this season.”

NMU wasted no time finding the scoreboard after Thursday’s 23-0 blowout loss to Indianapolis with Ringlever scoring on a free position shot 47 seconds into the opening half.

Ashland scored approximately one minute later on a goal from Sofia Michael, but the Wildcats poured it on after that, receiving a tally from freshman attacker Emily Renfrew, two from freshman midfielder Jessica Daniels and two more from Ringlever to go up 6-1.

The NMU defense held the Eagles to just three more goals in the first half, two more coming from Michael and one from Cora Wilson.

NMU held a 15-4 lead at halftime, leading in shots 23-9. The Wildcats also dominated possession, winning the draw control battle 13-6 in the first 30 minutes.

Northern allowed just two more goals in the second half, and it was goal number six for Ringlever that earned her the 100-goal milestone, coming unassisted at the 20:54 mark to make it 19-4 at the time.

Renfrew and Daniels finished with three goals apiece, while sophomore attacker Tess Kostelec and freshman midfielder Katie Zarembski finished with two goals each. Ringlever led the Wildcats in overall points with nine, adding two assists in the contest.

NMU finished with a 38-15 shots advantage and also won the draw control battle 24-7, while earning 22 ground balls to Ashland’s 14.

Freshman goalkeeper Cam Stilson made five saves for the Wildcats.

NMU now travels to three-seeded McKendree (7-6, 6-3 GLIAC) in the GLIAC quarterfinals on April 30. In the lone regular season game on March 22, the Bearcats topped the Wildcats 22-3.