MARQUETTE – Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t.
It didn’t for the Northern Michigan University women’s soccer team on Sunday afternoon as a goal in the closing minutes gave Northwood a 3-2 victory over the Wildcats, even though Northern outshot the Timberwolves 17-5.
After NMU (6-9 overall, 6-5 GLIAC) tied the game in the 63rd minute on a goal by Paula Hafner, Northwood’s Jessica Flores got free on a breakaway and kicked the ball just past Wildcats goalie Alexandra Simmons in the 87th minute of a 90-minute game. Simmons finished with two saves on five shots.
“I don’t know what happened on that third goal to be honest,” NMU head coach Matt Granstrand said. “My two center-backs collided with each other. I thought in the first half if we had finished some of our chances, it would’ve been over, but we didn’t. They came back and that bit us.
“I give credit to Northwood. It was a good battle and they won the game. That’s the GLIAC. It’s a tough conference and it’s a hard way to lose at the end.”
The Wildcats struck first at about the midway point of the first half when midfielder Gabriella Garza scored an unassisted goal.
“I thought we possessed the ball well on the goal,” Granstrand said. “Gabby picked her spot and she hit it. She’s a captain and a very skillful player, and she made a nice spot to get the goal.”
NMU held its 1-0 lead until early in the second half when Timberwolves forward Jessica Esser tied it up. Northwood (6-7-1, 6-5 GLIAC) took its first lead in the 62nd minute when midfielder Allison Carroll fired the ball to the right corner, over the outstretched hands of Simmons and just under the crossbar.
However, the Wildcats answered less than a minute later when Hafner scored on a long shot to the far corner into a wide-open net. Midfielder Tabitha Boze picked up an assist on the goal.
Both teams had a chance to win the game before Flores’ goal. Simmons made a sliding save to keep the game tied, while Hafner had two nice attempts but was stymied both times thanks to diving saves by Northwood goalie Julie Shields, who made 10 saves.
NMU closes out its regular season against rival Michigan Tech at noon Saturday. The Wildcats will play on the road during the GLIAC tournament, but have a chance to earn as high as a fifth seed if they beat the Huskies.
“It’s Senior Day and it’s Halloween,” Granstrand said about the Tech matchup. “You can’t ask for more, I suppose. I think whichever team wins will be the higher seed also. I think we’re pretty close together. We’ll regroup and we’ll train this week and we’ll do our best to give Tech a battle.”
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.