NMU soccer: Hafner OT goal gives Wildcats win

MARQUETTE – In a battle that went into overtime, the Northern Michigan University women’s soccer team came out on top with a 1-0 win over Northwood University on Friday in Marquette.

“I thought it was a good GLIAC game against two teams that are up-and-coming,” Wildcat head coach Matt Granstrand said. “We could’ve won today, (we) could’ve lost today.”

The lone goal came from freshman Paula Hafner, who leads the Wildcats (3-6-3 overall, 3-1-1 GLIAC) with five markers on the year. She scored 2:08 into overtime off a feed from freshman Carmen Villarruel.

“We had a few good chances throughout the game, but we struggled scoring, so it felt really good,” Hafner said of her tally.

Granstrand said he has been encouraging Hafner to shoot and take people on more, as opposed to passing.

With so many freshman in the lineup for the ‘Cats, Granstrand said it will take time for the players to learn to compete.

“The young ones are getting better, which is what you hope for. It’s a learning experience,” Granstrand said. “These are good teams (we’re playing).”

As Granstrand said he expected, it was a fairly even match between the two teams.

The Timberwolves (3-5-1 overall, 3-4 GLIAC) had seven shots in each half; the Wildcats tallied five in the first and six in the second.

“They had a great game plan,” Granstrand said. “They put out a formation that we rarely, if ever, see and executed it really well.”

The Timberwolves challenged the ‘Cats in the first half especially, Granstrand said, with a different style of play and the wind working against NMU.

“We worked hard for them not to score, but they really outplayed us in the first half,” Granstrand said. “We made some adjustments in overtime to not allow them to do that anymore.”

Hafner said the team has tightened up defensively, and that she is seeing more cooperation on that end of the field.

Granstrand said defense is a strong point for the Wildcats.

“Those are our older players, so I expect that from them,” Granstrand said.

“As the year progresses, they’re only going to get better and more comfortable.”

Freshman goalkeeper Alexandra Simmons stopped five shots on net for NMU. For Northwood, Samantha Cook made three saves.

The Wildcats will next take on the Saginaw Valley Cardinals (4-6-1 overall, 2-5 GLIAC) at noon Sunday in Marquette. The Cardinals fell to the Michigan Tech Huskies, 2-1, on Friday.