MARQUETTE - Suffering through a losing season for the first time in nine years does not sound like a whole lot of fun, especially when that campaign only includes four wins overall and three in conference.
Finishing 11th out of 14 teams in the GLIAC and missing the league's postseason tournament for the first time since its inception in 2008 doesn't feel like a blast either.
Being shut out 10 times in a season has to sting as well.
Northern Michigan University senior forward Amelia Johnson (3) crosses a ball toward the Malone goal during the first half on Sunday in the 2012 season finale for the Wildcats at the NMU Soccer Field. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Wildcat senior midfielder Brekelle Sellers sends a pass up field in the first half. NMU shut out Malone, 7-0. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
Yet, Northern Michigan University head coach Matt Granstrand still had a smile on his face following a 7-0 win on Sunday to wrap up his ninth season in Marquette.
In the end, Granstrand had fun in 2012 despite anything and everything going wrong, leading to a number of firsts he never hoped to encounter as head coach of the Wildcats women's soccer program.
"It feels good to get a win," Granstrand said. "We've struggled to get wins this season. The theme hasn't changed. I knew it was a rebuilding year. You take all the starters that are out hurt and it was going to be a challenge of a year.
"This was a good group. The future looks good. It's the most fun I've had coaching in many, many years. It's just a bunch of good kids.
"It's weird to say that when you're struggling, but we trained hard every day. We played hard every game and that's a credit to the seniors."
The Wildcats (4-13-0 overall, 3-10-0 in GLIAC) ended the 2012 season on a high note while celebrating Senior Day with a goal and two assists from senior midfielder Brekelle Sellers, plus two scores by her younger sister, Tevun, in a rout of Canton, Ohio's Malone University at the NMU Soccer Field.
Brekelle Sellers assisted on her sister's first goal during the match's 10th minute that put Northern up 1-0.
Tevun Sellers, a sophomore forward, then posted her team-leading fourth goal with an assist from sophomore Kim Rietveld in the 50th minute for a 5-0 lead.
Just over a minute prior to Tevun's second goal, Brekelle assisted on Rietveld's lone goal of the match and second of the season.
Brekelle Sellers scored her one and only goal of the season in the 51st minute unassisted by banking a shot from 35 yards out off the right goal post and into the netting.
Senior forward Amelia Johnson and sophomore defender Taylor Smith had unassisted goals in the first half while sophomore defender Heather Amr added a goal with an assist from freshman Katie Lyders-Petersen in the 87th minute.
NMU redshirt freshman goaltender Shelby Conard made five saves in her third shutout of the season.
"It felt amazing," Brekelle Sellers said about the win. "It was a relief. It was a good way to end the year. We just had trouble finishing. It wasn't our luck this year. Today felt good we could end this way.
"It was really good today to have an assist and goal from (Tevun). It was awesome. I'm going to miss it."
The Wildcats were projected to enter the 2012 season with as many as seven seniors, but two players who academically were seniors a year ago decided to graduate and pass on their final year of NCAA eligibility.
Senior midfielder KC McCary returned to the squad this season, but was redshirted and will return to field in 2013.
That left four seniors - Brekelle Sellers, Johnson, defender Becky Fiorenza and midfielder Jenna Peplinski - playing their final game in green and gold on Sunday among a group of 10 freshman, eight sophomores and one junior - Kaylagh Hollen, who was injured most of the year.
Brekelle Sellers said she never thought of the 2012 season as a rebuilding year and Fiorenza shared that sentiment.
"I guess in my head, I never thought of it as a rebuilding year," Fiorenza said. "I refused to think that because after being here for four years, the last thing you want to think is my year is a rebuilding year. I didn't let that mentality take over my mindset.
"It was a frustrating and challenging year but at the same time, these girls are fun. It's sad to think that we could only come away with a good ending. It's nice to know these girls have a positive future."
Tevun Sellers finished as the team's leading scorer with four goals after posting six as a freshman. Smith and Johnson each had three while freshman Gabriella Garza and Rietveld each had two.
Smith only appeared in six games as a freshman and failed to find the back of the net while Rietveld had three goals as a freshman. McCary will bring her three goals from 2011 into 2013 as well.
"I thought if we were healthy, we'd be about .500, but we weren't healthy," Granstrand said. "I like our young players. I think we have some really good ones. We'll get our older ones back healthy and it will be a great mix back to the standard we try to keep through the years."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.