First comeback

Photo Credit: Russell Hons -UND Athletics

On a rain-soaked Bronson Field, the Fighting Hawks of UND accomplished something that had never been done under the leadership of Head Coach Chris Logan. This team went down 1-0 to the Gaels of St Mary’s College 51:44 into the match on a corner kick that found its way to Malia Alison to open the scoring ledger for the day.

That lead lasted a mere 1:56 as a perfectly placed Bailey McNitt corner found Mara Yapello who was able to tie things up on a shot to the left side of the net.

The score would remain level until the second overtime frame because of UND goalie Catherine Klein parrying away a number of great looks for the Gaels.

107:58 into the match, once again the game was on Bailey McNitt’s foot. After recently coming on as a late substitute for Mimi Eiden , her skills at the corner flag were needed once again. She placed a ball in a tough spot for the Gaels who were unable to clear it from danger. Then Mara Yapello found Meghan Wilson who put home the golden goal for the Fighting Hawks.

UND finished a home weekend against two quality non-conference opponents in Montana and St. Mary’s undefeated. Today’s match presented different challenges as the Fighting Hawks faced one of the fastest teams they will see all season. In a battle of speed against speed UND was able to hang on through tough stretches and come out with a hard-earned victory.

Going forward, this team can build on a few things like ensuring a more stable possession throughout the middle of the field. As Logan noted, when the team is able to do that, given the skilled players they have, they become much harder to defend.

As UND works on that they can gain more options to utilize their strong speed on the wings to open up quality looks on goal.

Now the Fighting Hawks head out on a two game road trip through South Carolina to build on this weekend’s results. The Fighting Hawks take on South Carolina State and The Citadel this week before returning home on September 6 to take on Chicago State.

If this team can keep improving as they have under Logan since he came to campus then this season promises to be as electric as today’s result is.

Sound stalemate

(Photo Credit: Russell Hons-UND Athletics)

Coming into today’s season opening soiree against the Grizzlies of the University of Montana, this University of North Dakota Soccer team has already developed its identity. A well composed team of fast forwards combined with some stout defense is what will propel this team to victory.

Today, against Montana, the Fighting Hawks got the sound defense, they even got some chances not reflected in the final box score, but they did not get the result they wanted. After 110 hard-fought minutes the Fighting Hawks played to a 0-0 tie with the Grizzlies. The score does not tell the entire tale of how things went. For example, once again forward Mimi Eiden had herself a wonderful day as did a talented forward and midfield corps.

Eiden was all over the forward part of the field speeding around the tall and physically imposing back line of the Grizzlies. She developed chemistry with multiple talented midfielders and blocked at least one shot today. She came inches away from scoring on a beautifully placed ball by freshman Bailey McNitt. Eiden was able to shake off Montana’s talented netminder, Claire Howard, and came within mere inches of giving UND a lead with 15 minutes left in the game. Despite that, she benefited from the strong midfield play of McNitt and others throughout the game.

If there was one thing the Fighting Hawks could build on, and this seems a minor idea, but Howard is quite deft at knowing when to jump off her line to stop attacks before they build. When coming up the field, Howard’s positioning helped stymie some UND chances before they could take a shot against her. As the year goes on, if UND can draw down chances for goalies to extinguish chances before they develop then that could add another tool to its powerful offensive arsenal.

As Head Coach Chris Logan said “We attack as a team and defend as a team.” Seeing everyone able to get back and help preserve the net-front to limit Montana’s chances provides some backdrop of hope going forward for this team. Since taking over, Chris Logan has morphed this program from one happy to be in games after parrying double digit shots aside to one able to take the offensive to the other team. Today’s game was fought against a big Montana side able to slow UND a little, but not enough to earn a goal against them.

Going forward, this team has shown the ability just today against a team that made the NCAA tournament last year to do literally everything but put the ball in the back of the net. If this team can keep this pace up the rest of the year more often than not their results will be on the positive side of the ledger.

That all being said they face a tough test against the Gaels of St. Mary’s College on Sunday at 11:30 AM. If this same intensity can be carried over to Sunday morning, look for Eiden, McNitt, and the rest of this side to challenge a very good Gaels program.

Electric exhibition ending for UND Soccer

(Photo Credit: Russell Hons-UND Athletics)

On a beautiful Friday afternoon in Grand Forks, on the lush Bronson Field, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks showcased their readiness to tangle with Big Sky Champion Montana in one week. Fighting Hawks’ Head Coach Chris Logan utilized a different system throughout this game than his first one, and his team responded quite well.

UND took the exhibition finale over the Viterbo V-Hawks 5-0. The V-Hawks only registered one shot on net on the day. That shot was a perfectly placed ball in the top right corner but denied by freshman netminder Madi Livingston in the second half.

On the day, Mimi Eiden lead UND with two goals. Mara Yapello, Emma Bangert, and Lauren Glas added to the total. This team spent the majority of the game on offense, sending chance after chance into the box thanks to the wonderful and consistent wing play that again lead the way for the Fighting Hawks.

Everyone played their role on this team today once again leading to a strong win. Lest anyone doubt what Viterbo can do, they held a strong North Dakota State University team off the scoreboard in the first half of a Wednesday night exhibition in Fargo.

Going forward, what stands out to me about this team so far is not its attackers. The offense is lead by players like Mimi Eiden has played with speed since she came to campus. What stands out to me about this team is something that Logan has mentioned in both post game press conferences. This is arguably the deepest group of players he has had to work with since taking over as Head Coach at UND.

Today for instance, Viterbo looked to key in on fast players like Eiden, and she still scored twice, as other players like Mara Yapello benefited from that. Every player on the pitch can contribute offensively for this team and has shown an ability to do so in preseason, goalkeepers included.

All three goalies, Catherine Klein, Madi Livingston, and Hallie Byzewski are strong distributors of the ball from their back line and do a wonderful job of starting positive possessions. The challenge for this team is learning what to adjust to better improve its chemistry, a natural part of beginning any season, to be able to convert more of the numerous chances it will generate as the regular season starts next week.

These Fighting Hawks take on the Grizzlies of the University of Montana one week from today at 3:00 PM at Bronson Field. This will not be an easy opener, as Grizzlies Head Coach Chris Citowicki was Logan’s assistant in his first year in Grand Forks before taking the Montana job.

Citowicki leads a talented Montana side who was lead his team to the NCAA Tournament last year, and knows how to build rosters. These Fighting Hawks have benefited from many of the recruiting connections of Citowicki getting top players to come to Grand Forks, like Eiden.

Come to Bronson Field to check out what promises to be a wonderful opener and test for the Fighting Hawks one week from today, attendance is free and this team is fun to watch.

UND Soccer is sprinting towards the season

On Sunday at a bright, beautiful, and crowded Bronson Field, the Fighting Hawks’ Women’s Soccer Team kicked off their 2019 Season with an exhibition opener against the Bisons of Manitoba. While UND won the game 4-1 featuring freshman Lexi Miller scoring the game winner mere moments after coming into the game and freshman goaltender Madi Livingston making a sterling debut playing a clean majority of the second half minutes, there is a lot to like from this game.

Not only are Mimi Eiden and Olivia Knox slated to both have a big season, but those around her look improved and capable of making it impossible to game plan for any one attacker this season. This is a luxury UND Soccer has not had, arguably to this extent, since it joined Division One.

First, as the headline says, this team is fast. One of the biggest challenges Head Coach Chris Logan faced in game planning for opponents was countering their strong backfield with one or two strikers, hoping the wingers would get a ball in past the towering defenders that this team faces on a regular basis in the Summit League. With the team he has assembled, it is possible to do that.

For example, Emma Bangert alone had multiple runs up the right-handed side of the pitch and got quality passes through towards Eiden or Knox in the center. A few times plays were called back for offsides, and a few times the Bisons got to balls, but its a percentage game. The more quality runs through attack this team gets, the better it will be. Logan called this group the most dynamic he has coached so far, and he could be right. Knox and Eiden both have the talent and speed to help each other score goals, while on the back end, this team has maintained its strength.

Oh, and on defense, this team not only has Catherine Kline back in net, but she has two talented understudies who learn from her on a daily basis. Livingston today looked good in her time playing, she was never out of position for shots and controlled distribution quite well. A few years down the road one would hope that people talk about her and fellow freshman netminder Hallie Byzewski the way they have about alumnae Olivia Swenson and Klein. How this team defends the bigger strikers they will see in the Summit League will go a long way to determining their fate.

Finally, take the result today for what it is, a first step. This team, based on its quality runs and scintillating speed could have potted ten or more goals today according to Logan. The challenge will be connecting the speedy wing play to its talented strikers while maintaining its defensive prowess. On Friday, the Fighting Hawks are going to try some different tactical adjustments for the exhibition finale against Viterbo.

Look not so much at who is where on Friday, but look at the chemistry this team can form. The exhibition finale is a final chance for this team to learn what is working well so far, and put on film some moments that need work or adjustment in the hope of sending it not only into the season strong, but helping them make their goal, getting to the Summit League Conference Tournament.