MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Soccer announced their award winners for the 2017 season at a Wednesday afternoon luncheon.
Award winners include freshman defender Parker Bjorlin (Hermantown, Minnesota), sophomore defender Mirko Nufi (Crema, Italy), junior forward Sam Popp (Northville, Michigan), freshman forward Birkir Baldursson (Kopavogur, Iceland), sophomore goalkeeper Filippo Torelli (Parma, Italy), freshman defender Isaac Wigermo (Gothenburg, Sweden), and junior defender Kevin Hoof (Grove, Minnesota).
Bjorlin received the Coach's Award. Bjorlin competed in three contests, and was instrumental in pushing the Wildcats to their success in this year's postseason run.
Nufi was named the Defensive Player of the Year. The sophomore competed in 13 matches this season, including both postseason contests. Nufi recorded one point on an assist to junior defender Kevin Hoof (Grove, Minnesota) on October 8. A consistent part of NMU's back line, Nufi helped guide the Wildcats to 3 shutouts in his 13 games.
Popp was named Offensive Player of the Year. Popp played in all 19 contests, garnering the start in 18 of those matches. The junior led the squad in nearly every statistical category, including points and goals with 15 and six. Popp also tied for the team lead with three assists in 2017. Popp netted the first goal in postseason history for the Wildcats with his score in the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament victory over Tiffin University in the first round. He was also named the GLIAC All-Tournament Team after the Wildcats reached the semifinals.
Baldursson and Torelli were awarded Goal and Save of the Year after their efforts in that GLIAC Tournament first round win over Tiffin. Baldursson netted his fourth score of the year in the 72nd-minute to put the Wildcats up, 2-1, over the Dragons. To secure the win, Torelli made his eighth save of the match as time expired to seal the NMU victory, their first postseason win in program history.
Wigermo was named Most Improved. The freshman played in 14 matches, earning the start in a number of contests later in the season. Wigermo ended his first campaign at NMU with a pair of assists, including one on Popp's goal in the first-round match of the GLIAC Tournament.
Hoof was named Player of the Year for the Wildcats. The junior captain played and started in 18 games this season, while scoring a pair of goals for six points in 2017. His first goal came at Saginaw Valley on October 8th, while the second goal was at Ashland on October 20.
The Wildcats their 2017 season with more wins and a high win-percentage than the 2016 team, the first team in program history. In just their second season, NMU advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament before bowing out of their first-ever postseason appearance.