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Northern Michigan University men’s soccer team on a roll with trip to Upper Iowa today

Northern Michigan University’s Kaffie Kurz helps out a Purdue Northwest player with a cramp at the NMU Soccer Field on Sept. 20, 2019. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University men’s soccer team may not be playing at its usual time of the year, but being inside the Superior Dome keeps a typical slow-breaking Upper Peninsula spring from affecting it much.

After losing their first two games, the Wildcats have won two in a row, beating Ashland in the dome two weeks ago and shutting out Purdue Northwest on the road on Sunday. NMU had to fight some furious wind gusts to take down the Pride, which impressed head coach David Poggi.

“Well, first of all, it was a pretty interesting match,” he said. “The weather conditions, you can tell why there’s wind turbines all over Indiana because they get quite a bit of wind coming through there from the Windy City.

“The wind was coming out of the northwest and it was probably about 30 miles an hour, which doesn’t sound like much being up here in the U.P., but it was a real factor in the match.

“So it feels good, it feels good to get tested in different ways. We were definitely tested and to pull it off with basically just grinding it out defensively, I think was motivating for the team.”

Poggi also praised goalkeeper Alex Weaver, who made three saves to preserve the shutout and has played fairly well since transferring from Highline Community College.

“He’s played every minute of every match,” Poggi said. “He’s a junior who’s a transfer. I expected that of him when I recruited him and he’s delivering. As some of the other coaches have already mentioned, having that extra time to work with him so he can transition from the club he was with before at the junior college level to the way we try to play is usually a long transition period, usually maybe half a season.

“And he’s embraced everything that we’re doing and I was just real happy for him.”

After picking up two victories, Poggi likes where his team is at and how it’s evolved from being young to becoming organized.

“It’s 2-2, but it’s without having a match in a year. So it feels like we’re just coming out of preseason, and now we’re ready to start building on the four matches that we’ve had. The successes and the weaknesses (are) what you see, but it’s a young team and every team’s different. Every program and every team is different.

“And with a young team, there is a learning curve, but there’s also a sense of excitement. I think we’re kind of there. We’re in that sense of excitement right now. When you first come in, you don’t want to say anything to anybody as a player and you want to just be accepted.

The Wildcats head to Upper Iowa at noon EDT Saturday before returning home to face Northwood on Sunday, April 11.

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

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