MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Lacrosse program made big strides in their second year which included several highlights.
In front of their loudest crowd of the season, the Wildcats defeated Davenport University 17-16 for their first-ever Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory. NMU jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game and held on during a late surge by the Panthers to collect the victory.
To end the season, sophomore Graison Ringlever (Mattawan, Mich.) gave the team their first All-GLIAC selection as she was named to the All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team. Ringlever led the Wildcats with 29 ground balls and 84 draw controls. In the team's home contest with University of Indianapolis, she became the first-ever Wildcat to reach 100 draw controls in a career and has 114 total. She also tied for the team-high of seven assists and finished second on the squad with 37 goals.
Freshman Emily Dvorak (Oconomowoc, Wis.) paced the team with 39 goals and also finished with seven assists. The pair of Dvorak and Ringlever gave NMU their first 30-goal scorers in program history.
As a team, the Wildcats scored more goals and more than doubled their assist total. Freshman Tess Kostelec (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) tied Dvorak and Ringlever with seven assists and her 16 goals were fourth on the team, behind freshman Ellie Bahr's (Crystal, Minn./Benilde St. Margarets) 21 goals.
Freshman Bianca Kinder (Haslett, Mich.) added 12 goals with six assists to give the young team five players with double-figure goals.
The team also led the GLIAC for portions of the season in shooting percentage as they ended 2018 with five players shooting over 50 percent. Freshman Casey Heintzelman (Hudsonville, Mich.) shot 66.7 percent to lead the Wildcats. Bahr, Kostelec, Dvorak, and freshman Hannah Seaman (Clarkston, Mich.) all hit the 50 percent mark. As a group, NMU converted 48.4 percent of their chances while only allowing opponents to shoot 46.7 percent.
This year's group also collected more ground balls than the 2017 team. In addition to Ringlever's 29, freshman Shannon Walus (Brighton, Mich.) picked up 24 and sophomore Leiss Luyckx Troy, Mich./Bloomfield Hills) grabbed 22 to pace the team. Walus also led the Wildcats with 10 caused turnovers.
In the cage, NMU featured two goaltenders. Freshman Emily Karbaum (Sudlersville, Md./Queen Annes) collected each win and paced the team with 128 saves. Senior Brianna Bangle (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) finished with 82 saves in nine appearances as she battled injury near the end of the year.
The 2018 campaign saw the second-year program make large strides while relying on a team full of freshman and sophomores. With the young squad expected to return every goal from this past season as well as a majority of their defense, the experience gained will aid the program as it continues to grow.