MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Soccer capped off a historic season with their first postseason victory in their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship appearance in program history.
The Wildcats were the only GLIAC team not to compete in a conference match during the final weekend of the regular season. This meant NMU needed help from around the conference to secure a berth into the conference tournament, which they received when Tiffin University defeated Ashland University in overtime to end their regular seasons. The match secured the six seed for NMU, who went on to defeat Notre Dame College in a nonconference match the following day.
In their GLIAC quarterfinals matchup, NMU hit the road to take on Tiffin for the third time in 2017. The Dragons earned the win in both regular season matchups, but it was the Wildcats that advanced to the conference semifinals. Junior forward Sam Popp (Northville, Michigan) and freshman forward Birkir Baldursson (Kopavogur, Iceland) scored to give NMU their first ever postseason win.
Despite holding then-No. 24 Saginaw Valley State University scoreless for the opening 70 minutes, The Cardinals scored late to defeat the Wildcats in the semifinal round. The loss ended the historic 2017 season, just the second year of the NMU Men's Soccer program.
After the completion of the GLIAC postseason tournament, a pair of Wildcats were named to the 2017 GLIAC Men's Soccer All-Tournament Team. Popp and sophomore goalkeeper Filippo Torelli (Parma, Italy) were honored for their postseason performance. Popp scored a goal and took three total shots, while Torelli made 10 saves in 180 minutes of action surrendering just one goal.
Prior to the start of the conference semifinals, junior defender Kevin Hoof (Grove, Minnesota) was named Honorable Mention All-GLIAC. Hoof appeared and started in 18 games over the course of the year netting a pair of goals.
The regular season was highlighted by a pair of 2-1-1 stretches, one to begin the year and another to close the year. The four-match stretch to begin 2017 included a region win over Great Lakes Valley Conference Champion the University of Indianapolis and a 2-2 draw with region opponent the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
In his second season with the team, head coach David Poggi guided the team to more wins and an increased win percentage with the squad finishing 5-10-2 overall, 2-9-1 in the GLIAC
With no seniors on the team, the Wildcats are set to return all 29 players from the 2017 squad. For the year, 10 players scored a goal lead by Popp with six and Baldursson with four. The duo lead NMU in point, as well, scoring 15 and eight, respectively. A total of 13 players scored a point this year.
Torelli will return to lead the NMU defense after making 18 starts in goal during 2017. The sophomore played nearly 1,600 minutes recording four shutouts. Torelli also finished the regular season fourth in the GLIAC for saves (50), goals allowed (22), and goal-against-average (1.37).