MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Women's Soccer will look to make major strides during the 2018 season under second year head coach Sonia Basma. After her first full season at the helm, Basma hopes to have added some offensive weapons while relying on upperclassmen and experience on the defensive end.
"Every game in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is a battle, and, with their experience, our girls know that," Basma said of her 2018 roster. "Now we need to get the incoming players to understand how to grind it out. […] Sometimes it goes far beyond skill and ability. It is more about who wants it that day."
The Wildcats advanced to the conference tournament for the for the fifth-consecutive season and 10th time in 11 years after earning the seven seed in Basma's first season. With a young team, NMU scored less than one goal per game while allowing more than 1.5 per contest. Both are stats that the Wildcats hope to improve for the upcoming campaign.
Sophomore forward Jenna Halonen (Howell, Michigan) was the squad's main offensive threat a season ago, scoring eight goals and adding a pair of assists. Her scoring ability was on display in a shutout over Purdue University Northwest when Halonen broke the school record for goals in a contest with four.
Only one other returning Wildcat scored multiple goals last season with senior midfielder Aimee Colla (Muskego, Wisconsin) scoring two. Sophomore defender Kaitlynn Benson (Windsor, Ontario) and senior defender Sophia Sachs (Green Bay, Wisconsin) each scored one goal last year. Basma's incoming class hopes to increase the 2018 offensive output.
"We are really excited about our income players," Basma said of her freshman class. "There will be a lot of creativity, especially on the attacking end. I am excited to mesh the newcomers with the returners."
Sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Frontuto (Luxemburg, Wisconsin) will return after a stellar freshman season which saw her firmly cement her name in the NMU record book. Her 85 saves are the eighth most in a season in program history, while the number is also 11th most in a career for the program. Additionally, Frontuto's four shutouts rank sixth best in NMU history.
"Last year, you could see the inexperience at times," Basma described of Frontuto. "At the end of the day, she showed up big in so many games. She is continuing to improve, especially now that we have a goalkeeping coach on staff."
Last season's young team now returns in 2018 as an experienced group that saw a number of close contests with three going to double overtime. That type of experience combined with the newcomers has the potential for an exciting season for Wildcat Women's Soccer.
"These girls have a year-and-a-half under their belt with me," Basma said about entering her second season. "Now, they understand what we are trying to do in our system of play and how our team should function, which is very exciting."