he SVSU men’s soccer team picked up a bounce-back victory against GLIAC foe Northern Michigan on Friday, Sept. 15.
The 3-0 road win was the team’s second shutout of the young season, and the No. 16 Cardinals improved to 4-1 overall.
First-half goals from juniors Connor Rutz and Omar Sinclair set the tone for the rest of the match as NMU was only able to muster four shots during the contest.
“We try to set the tone early in games, but NMU came out very strong and made us work very hard defensively,” head coach Andy Wagstaff said. “Then, as we started to get dominant in possession, we started to unlock them.”
After a fifth-minute shot from Northern’s Callum Olpin went wide, SVSU quickly grabbed position and set up a corner kick for senior forward Matt Wilson. Thirty seconds later, Rutz found the back of the net on an assist from Wilson to give the Cardinals the early lead.
After the goal, SVSU continued to pour on the offensive pressure, getting several corner kicks and a few more shots. In the 26th minute, Sinclair netted his first goal of the season, giving the Cardinals a commanding 2-0 lead.
“It was from a free kick on the edge of the box on the far left,” Sinclair said. “The keeper positioned himself too far over to one side; all I really had to do was get it up over the wall into the opposite corner.”
SVSU maintained offensive pressure throughout the second half and found the back of the net once more in the 80th minute, when junior Chris Jacovou found Michael Hamilton for his second goal of the season.
NMU had one final shot just over a minute later, but the Sam Popp attempt was saved by Connor Keane.
“Connor dealt with everything that NMU did when they tried going directly into his box,” Wagstaff said. “It was very commanding and deserving of the clean sheet. The back four and holding mids performed very well as a unit and take pride in keeping other teams off the score sheet.”
For SVSU, which fell to Ohio Valley 1-0 the weekend before, it was a much-needed bounce back win.
“We spoke about not losing two games in a row and about the character and mental strength needed to move quickly from a tough loss and not let it affect our next performance,” Wagstaff said. “(Friday), they did just that.”
SVSU will travel again next weekend as it squares off against Tiffin and Purdue Northwest. A year ago, SVSU and Tiffin were the GLIAC’s top two sides.
The Cardinals are expecting another challenge from the Dragons in 2017.
“(Friday) felt great and showed that we have a lot of good character,” sophomore midfielder Pablo Ortiz said. “For Tiffin, we have to get our legs back and simply play the way we have been playing.”