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Northern Michigan University Wildcats men’s soccer team comes home to post 3rd straight shutout

Northern Michigan University’s Brady Kronenburg, right, moves the ball upfield as Northwood’s George Caudwell defends during the first half of their men’s soccer game played Sunday at the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

MARQUETTE — Sometimes in soccer, teams just have to keep grinding away in a match before they get rewarded.

The Northern Michigan University men’s squad did that throughout its match against Northwood on Sunday afternoon and finally, with 14:11 remaining, Emanuele Ancione got the Wildcats broke the scoreless deadlock as NMU closed out a 1-0 win in the Superior Dome for its fourth victory in a row.

Goalkeeper Alex Weaver also made three saves to help Northern notch its third straight shutout.

“This is a very good team that we played today and the game, as you saw, 0-0 at halftime, (but) it wasn’t a 0-0 game,” Wildcats head coach David Poggi said. “It could’ve been 5-5. I think we came out on the lucky end of it, but take nothing away from these guys.

“They show up and you can see our record over the years, this was a little bit of a nice result, especially playing in the dome and especially with everything else that’s going on now.”

NMU definitely had earlier chances to score but couldn’t capitalize. With under 24 minutes left in the first half, Northern midfielder Kaffie Kurz’s shot sailed just over the crossbar, and about four minutes later, teammate Brady Kronenburg tried to sent a long pass to Ryan Palmbaum near the net, but Timberwolves goalie Corbin Cecchini got to ball just before it got to its intended destination and covered it.

At the other end of the pitch, Weaver made a diving save with seven minutes left to keep the game scoreless.

When asked how his team has managed to pull off three straight shutouts, Weaver said it just came down to teamwork and hard work.

“I think what it comes down to is we’re playing as a team,” he said. “All 11 of us are getting behind the ball and we’re working real hard and we’re just getting it done. We’re grinding the zeroes out.”

The Wildcats had two more golden chances in the opening half. A minute after Weaver’s save, Kronenburg collected the ball during a scramble in front of the Northwood net, but his shot went just wide of the left post. A similar moment came with just under four minutes to go as the Wildcats’ Niko Scheibal got the ball out of a scramble, but his shot went right off the bar and the match stayed at 0-0.

In the second half, the Wildcats got lucky in an odd way. With 34 minutes left, Weaver and a fellow Wildcat collided, which left a wide open net. Northwood scored on the play, but the goal was waved off. NMU had some shots on net in the period, but none of them were high-quality chances.

Then Ancione had his moment. After getting a long cross, the forward snuck the ball past a diving Cecchini to make it 1-0. Palmbaum and Shawn Clark picked up assists on the goal.

Northern had two opportunities to pad its lead, but Cecchini made a leaping save on the first attempt and the Wildcats couldn’t take advantage of a wide open net with just over a minute left.

Weaver, who came in as a transfer this season, said he’s noticed that the culture around the team is changing and in a good way.

“I wasn’t here this last couple years, but I could tell by some of the guys that have been here in the past, they say that things are changing,” Weaver said. “Our mindsets are changing. We know we’re here to win and that’s what we want to do and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

NMU closes out its regular season at home Saturday against Wisconsin-Parkside.

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

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