MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Soccer (6-10-2, 2-9-1 GLIAC) began the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with their first win in program history, defeating Tiffin University. The Wildcats continue their postseason run with a contest against No. 24 Saginaw Valley State University (12-3-1, 9-2-1 GLIAC) who entered the postseason with a first-round bye as the two-seed. Friday's match is scheduled for 10 a.m. and will take place at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan.
Coverage of the contest can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats.
Milestone Victory. In just the second year of the program, the Wildcats managed to secure a berth into the GLIAC Tournament for the first time after the 2017 regular season. Facing Tiffin, the Wildcats earned a 1-0 lead at the half before the Dragons knotted the game at 1-1 in the opening minutes of the second. A goal by NMU in the 73rd-minute gave the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage with the defense able to hold on the rest of the way, including a save as time expired. The postseason victory marked the first in program history for the NMU Men's Soccer program.
Postseason Hero. No stranger to finding the back of the net, freshman forward Birkir Baldursson (Kopavogur, Iceland) is the second-leading goal scorer on the NMU squad with four on the season. His latest goal came in the 73rd-minute of the team's GLIAC Tournament quarterfinal match on Tuesday, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage. The 20-yard shot from outside the box proved to be the game-winning goal, Baldursson's first game-winner of the season.
Popp's Progression. As a sophomore, junior forward Sam Popp (Northville, Michigan) recorded just two points on a pair of assists. In his junior campaign, Popp has improved to lead the team in three categories. He leads the squad with 15 total points and 6 goals, while he is tied for the team lead with three assists.
Distributing the Ball. A total of 10 Wildcats have recorded at least one assists over the course of the 2017 season. Popp and junior forward Nic Harenda (Waukesha, Wisconsin) lead the team with three assists each. Five players have recorded a pair of assists, while three more have recorded a single assist during the year.
Between the Posts. Sophomore goalkeeper Filippo Torelli (Parma, Italy) has appeared 17 of the team's 18 games during the season. At the end of the regular season, he ranked fourth in a number of categories in the GLIAC with 50 saves, 22 goals allowed, and a goals-against-average of 1.39. After the opening game of the GLIAC Tournament, Torelli now sits at 58 saves with 23 goals allowed and a GAA of 1.37.
2017 GLIAC Tournament Bracket. NMU and GLIAC newcomer Davenport University both advanced from the quarterfinal round to advance in the tournament bracket. The Wildcats advance in the bottom half of the bracket to player SVSU who earned the two-seed and a first-round bye. In the top half of the bracket, DU will play top-seed Northwood who also received the first-round bye. The winner of the two matches will meet in Sunday's GLIAC Championship match. As the top-seed, NU will host both the semifinal contests and the championship match this weekend.
GLIAC Tournament History. The 2017 GLIAC Tournament appearance will mark the first for NMU in what is just the second season in program history. Tuesday's victory over Tiffin gave the Wildcats their first postseason victory in their first-ever postseason match.
Poggi Enters His Second Year. NMU Head Coach David Poggi is in his second season as the head coach of the Wildcats, producing a record of 11-20-4 overall. The Wildcats earned their first postseason appearance in program history, being awarded the six-seed in the 2017 GLIAC Tournament.
NMU versus Saginaw Valley. A pair of defeats early this season to the Cardinals dropped NMU to 0-4 all-time versus SVSU. The Wildcats were shutout, 3-0, by the then No. 13 Cardinals in the 2017 conference-opener. Later in the year, NMU grabbed an early lead on then No. 10 SVSU, but the Cardinals would come-back to earn a 3-1 victory.