Wildcats Continue to Take Major Strides in 2018

Wildcats Continue to Take Major Strides in 2018

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Soccer saw their season come to a close last week in the quarterfinal round of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament after reaching the postseason for the second-consecutive season.

For the second straight season, the Wildcats ended their campaign having set a number of records and reached program firsts. For the first time in the three-year history of the NMU Men's Soccer program, the Wildcats finished with a .500 overall record and matched last season's win total.

The 2018 schedule was highlighted by an undefeated month of September where the Wildcats finished 6-0-2 before the calendar turned. The month started with a program record five-match win streak, while NMU also shutout five-consecutive opponents before the end of September, also a program record.

A pair of Wildcats received First Team All-GLIAC honors at the conclusion of the regular season. Junior midfielder Callum Olpin (Norwich, England) and senior defender Kevin Hoof (Maple Grove, Minnesota) both received first-team honors for the first time in their careers after strong season. Olpin recorded career-highs with four goals and four assists, while three of his goals were game winners. Hoof started in every match this season and helped improve the team's goals against average to 1.05 during 2018.

Senior forward Sam Popp (Northville, Michigan) fueled the team's offense this season by setting program records in nearly every offensive category. His 23 points and 10 goals were both program records and helped Popp set the career marks for both goals and points. He is also tied with senior forward Nic Harenda (Waukesha, Wisconsin) for the career assists record. Popp's efforts in 2018 were enough to be honored with second team all-conference accolades.

Taking over between the posts this season, freshman goalkeeper Valentin Kliebe (Hessisch Lichtenau, Germany) appeared in 14 matches and was one of the top goalkeepers in the GLIAC. He made a program record 67 saves en route to a .817 save percentage and 1.04 goals against average. Kliebe also earned three solo clean sheets and combined four two more with fellow freshman goalkeeper Patrick Restum (Okemos, Michigan).

Looking ahead to 2019, the Wildcats will need to replace Popp's production but are set to return a number of student-athletes who had breakout season's in 2018. NMU will return more than 63% of their point production and 59% of their goal scoring from the 2018 campaign.