When you think back to UND Sports and the season all of their Big Sky Teams put together, which team had the most improvement in their overall record? Without a doubt it was Women’s Soccer. They improved from two wins in 2016 to eight wins last year, and just narrowly missed the conference tournament due only to tiebreakers.
In 2017, new Head Coach Chris Logan took a team struggling to find an offensive identity, and provided them one built on finishing chances and increasing the pace of play from the previous few seasons. Last year, Logan took the UND Soccer team their best finish in the Big Sky Conference. In the process he garnered himself Big Sky Coach of the Year for his efforts.The team was lead by strong goaltending from Big Sky goalkeeper of the Year Catherine Klein. She returns for her junior season along with Big Sky First Team All-Conference forward Katie Moller returning for her senior campaign.
Going into this year, Logan leads a staff featuring new assistant coach Josh Davis. He was previously at the University of Idaho. When talking with Logan, he noted that his relationship with Davis has been on going in a professional sense for four years. Davis was his first call.The former University of Idaho assistant jumped at the chance to come to work with his friend and mentor this year. New goalkeepers coach Amanda Raso comes on to lead a superb trio of goalies headlined by Klein.
Regarding this recruiting class, Logan focused on adding more attacking players. The majority of his new recruits are focused on scoring goals. This new class will give UND more depth and allow them to not press as much. The staff appreciates all of the incoming class and each of them highlighted different players to watch for.The underlying theme of this is that each of the 10 new recruits coming to campus all have unique traits.
One freshman fans should watch for as she makes her Fighting Hawks debut this season is forward Olivia Knox. From the official annoucement of the recruiting class, Logan said of Knox : “Olivia is a strong, fast forward who is powerful in the air and extremely aggressive. Olivia’s competitive edge will be a massive asset as the program continues to grow and she has a great winning mentality. ”
Logan said of his recruiting class “we’re very blessed with a talented group”.
The Fighting Hawks play a non-conference schedule designed to help them deal with overcoming adversity to prepare them for the Summit League. One key aspect to look at is the two southern trips UND will take early in the season. The Fighting Hawks face Nicholls State, and Southern University in their first southern swing. After that, UND faces Idaho and Montana in Missoula, then returns home to take on Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State. Following those key games, the Fighting Hawks return to the south to take on Grambling State and Alcorn State. These southern swings will feature UND playing tough competition on the road, in heat. As the staff noted, while UND does not play any non-conference matchups at an altitude of Denver, these tests should equip UND to deal with challenges in unique scenarios which will benefit them later on this year.
Logan also highlighted one unique game in the non-conference portion the season for his side. He noted the September 21 game against the University of Portland. He expects the Pilots’ style of play to test the Fighting Hawks early on in the season. The Pilots are lead by new head coach Michelle French, a former assistant coach for the US Women’s national team. French got into coaching and player development after a superb four year career (1995-1998) playing for the Pilots. French, a four year starter at defense, helped the Pilots reach three NCAA Tournament Final Fours (1995-1997), including a trip to the 1995 National Championship along with three West Coast Conference Championships. The unique style the Pilots play will make this matchup a highlight for Fighting Hawks’ fans in the important non-conference schedule.
Look for this team to feature an exciting and up-tempo pace of play just like last season. This season, the team will have more depth up front to compliment their superb goaltending, and defensive play.
This depth, combined with the culture Logan has instilled here, and the talent of returning forwards like Katie Moller and Mimi Eden are some of many good reasons to venture out to East Grand Forks and check out this team as they soar into their first season in the Summit League.