MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Women's Soccer team returns a core group of players who gained valuable experience and looks to compete for a spot in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Wildcats return 12 players who made at least eight appearances last season. Of those 12 players, eight were in their first year at Northern Michigan. The team will look to utilize this experience after so many earned valuable minutes last year.
The team's point leader, sophomore Caroline Halonen (Hartland, Mich.) returns after earning Second Team All-GLIAC honors as she finished her freshman season with nine goals and six assists. Halonen is joined up front by sophomore Taelor Moore (Warren, Mich.) who added three goals.
The defense will be anchored by returning All-GLIAC performer, senior Gaelin Hirabayashi (Ijamsville, Md.), and junior goalkeeper Brianna Frontuto (Luxemburg, Wis.). Hirabayashi led a backline that forced three shutouts and 11 games that were decided by just one goal. Frontuto collected each win in goal for the Wildcats last year and posted a 0.88 goals against average.
In the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, the Wildcats finished with 23 points to be ahead of Northwood University and Purdue University Northwest for the final tournament bid.
Defending league champion, Grand Valley State University, is coming off an NCAA Division II National Championship appearance and received nine first place votes and 81 total points. Ferris State University received 67 points and a first place vote. Saginaw Valley State University, 64 points, and Ashland University, 63 points, round out the preseason's top four.
Michigan Technological University received 49 points for fifth. Davenport University is sixth with 38 points while the University of Wisconsin-Parkside tallied 33 points for seventh. After NMU's 23 points, Northwood saw 20 while PNW had 12.
The Wildcats will open the regular season Friday, September 6 at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The team's first game in Marquette will be Friday, September 13 at 1 p.m. vs. Winona State University.