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GLIAC men’s soccer playoffs in the Superior Dome: Northern Michigan University readies for Davenport on Sunday

Northern Michigan University’s Ryan Palmbaum, front, races a Northwood midfielder to the ball in the first half of their game played April 11 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

“Anybody in this tournament can win this tournament.” — David Poggi, NMU head men’s soccer coach, on the upcoming GLIAC Tournament

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MARQUETTE — Virtually no team wants to go into the postseason with a loss, but that’s the situation the Northern Michigan University men’s soccer team is in.

The Wildcats (4-3) were dealt a heartbreaking overtime loss by Wisconsin-Parkside on Saturday in the Superior Dome and now must regroup for the GLIAC Tournament after their four-game winning streak came to an end.

Northern had also shut out its previous three opponents before surrendering two goals to the Rangers.

Northern Michigan University's Emanuele Ancione, center, chases Northwood's George Caudwell in the Timberwolves' end during the second half of their men's soccer game played April 11 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

“When you make mistakes, or if you don’t capitalize on your chances, the ones that you have, then you’re prone to be in a situation where you’re going to get into overtime,” NMU coach David Poggi said in a Zoom interview on Monday. “And our overtime is sudden death, it just takes one kick of the ball to get it in and sometimes it goes to double overtime, sometimes it goes to extra penalty kicks, all that kind of stuff.

“But they took advantage of the kickoff and were on the front foot the whole way. They’re a good team, we talked about that as well.

“We had to play our best to get the result that we wanted and we worked really hard. I don’t know if it was our best in certain categories, but from the standpoint of effort and composure and all of those things, I thought that the guys did a real good job.

“It’ll be a good learning experience. You would’ve liked to just kept on with the happiness of winning matches and pushing us through, but we wound up in a top seed and I think that we couldn’t ask for more. Regardless of the result, I think that we’ll be ready to play come … Sunday.”

The Wildcats are in the midst of a week off before opening the GLIAC Tournament at home at 1 p.m. Sunday against Davenport (3-4), which NMU lost to in March. Poggi said that the Panthers will be a difficult opponent and that anybody has the ability to win the conference.

“First of all, they’re an experienced program,” he said. “They’ve been around for a long time, not necessarily in the GLIAC, they were NAIA national champions before they came into the GLIAC…. So they know what to do and when to do it and they’ve got kind of that tradition.

“Obviously, they don’t have the same players as when they were in the NAIA because they’ve been in here since we’ve been in, but they’re well coached. (Davenport head coach) Chris (Hughes) coached that team through the national championship, so they’ll be ready as anyone to play us.

“They’re technical, they’re physical, they’re athletic. I mean, you could go on and on…. They tick all the boxes of a team that should be in the playoffs and it’ll be exciting to play them.

“And it will be just like Wisconsin-Parkside and Saginaw (Valley State) and Northwood, Purdue Northwest and everybody else, Ashland. Ashland got a great result the other day, 4-0 against Davenport. That never happens.

“So anybody in this tournament can win this tournament and we’re going to focus on Davenport for next Sunday.”

With all that has been going on this year with COVID-19 restrictions and some teams having to postpone or cancel games, Poggi said the Wildcats earning a home playoff game is a good accomplishment.

“It’s huge and it’s a real amount of gratitude for being able to use the dome as a facility and the work that it’s taken within this pandemic time to make it all happen,” he said. “No one would’ve expected to be, first of all playing a conference tournament game in the dome with men’s soccer. This will be a first for us.

“When I first started the program, we talked to the recruits about you have an opportunity to make history. Just as the first year, or the second year, or whatever, but it goes on from there.

“This is one of those historic moments for us and for the program and for all the guys that came through before. I’ve been hearing from those guys and they’re looking forward to following us on the weekend. Virtually, but following us. So I think it’s a real positive.”

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

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