Northern Michigan University Wildcats lacrosse team splits trip vs. Great Lakes Valley Conference teams on the road over the weekend

Northern Michigan University’s Maddie Bast, left, vies for control of the ball during a Wildcats’ home match played earlier this season in the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Photo courtesy NMU)

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University lacrosse team split a pair of road matches against Great Lakes Valley Conference teams on back-to-back days over the weekend.

The Wildcat women lost at nationally ranked Indianapolis 18-5 before heading west and taking down McKendree 16-13.

NMU is now 6-4, including a win in their only GLIAC match so far, and have four more games on their current seven-game road trip. Next up are conference matches at Grand Valley State at 5 p.m. Friday and at Davenport at noon Sunday, both in the greater downstate Grand Rapids area.

They the Wildcats have two more matches on the road two weeks after that before returning home to face Davenport at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 21, in the Superior Dome.

Here is a roundup of the weekend action:


Indianapolis 18, NMU 5

On Friday at Indianapolis, the No. 4 Greyhounds (10-1) jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter while keeping Northern to its lowest offensive output of the season.

Madi Bast, Minnie Bittell, Kaitlyn Bridger, Dayna Carlson and Taylor Priestley each had a single goal — all unassisted — for the Wildcats as Bittell had NMU’s most shots with three and freshman goaltender Hannah Melander made nine saves.

Joey Fowler had three unassisted first-quarter goals and Anna Ziemba two assisted ones as Indy led 8-0 entering the second period. In that time, NMU had just two shots but six turnovers as Melander made three saves.

Priestley finally got Northern on the scoreboard with 9:32 left in the first half before Bittell made it 13-2 at halftime with a free-position shot for a goal one tick before the intermission buzzer.

Bast scored the first goal of the second half 1:40 in for back-to-back NMU goals, but Indy answered with its own two-in-a-row to restore a 15-3 lead with 5:41 left in the third. Bast’s goal was her 23rd of the season.

Bridger scored the final goal of the third with 3:06 left to make it 15-4, then Carlson added Northern’s final tally with 3:42 remaining.

Statistically, Indy held a big 32-10 advantage in shots, including 27-7 in shots on goal. NMU also lost the turnover battle 19-6 and ground ball total, 18-7, though the Wildcats had more draw controls, 15-11, and only lost free-position shots 5-4.


NMU 16, McKendree 13

On Saturday at Lebanon, Illinois, Bittell led the Wildcats with a half-dozen goals, while Bridger added five in this back-and-forth game.

The Bearcats (4-6) scored the only two goals of the opening quarter before NMU erupted for six in the second to trail 7-6 at halftime.

Bridger scored first for Northern, making it 2-1 early in the second, before McKendree added two more, then Bast notched her 24th goal of the season, followed by back-to-back tallies by Bridger to tie it 4-4.

McKendree retook a two-goal lead only to have Bittell get her first of the day, followed by Priestley retying it 6-6 before a late McKendree goal gave the Bearcats the halftime advantage.

Bittell gave NMU its third tie to open the second half, 7-7, then Northern took its first lead of the weekend on goals by Priestley and Natalie McGinnis.

McKendree tied it once again, but Northern had an answer when Priestley made a pass to Bittell, who put the ball in the net to clinch her hat trick.

Bittell and Bridger each added another tally along with the Bearcats getting one more as the Wildcats led 12-10 entering the fourth.

Bittell twice answered a goal by McKendree early in the fourth to keep NMU’s lead at 14-12, then Bast also answered a Bearcats goal, with Bridger scoring into an open net with 15 seconds remaining for the final three-goal margin.

In addition to Bittell’s and Bridger’s prodigious scoring, Bast and Priestley each scored twice and each had an assist for NMU as Melander made six saves and McKendree counterpart Clara Andrews had 11 stops. Northern’s other assists were credited to McGinnis and Clara Johnson.

The Bearcats’ Jayna Barnden had five goals, while Jenna Sugarman had four.

The Wildcats had a 32-20 edge in total shots, including 27-19 in shots on goal, while also winning the turnover battle, 20-13, and draw controls, 19-11. Ground balls were even 15-15.

Bittell now leads NMU in goals with 29 and points with 33, while Bridger has 22 and 29 in those respective categories and Bast 25 and 26.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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