(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.