(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-UND Athletics)
Yesterday, in a game defined by two teams battling on a slow and wet field, Mimi Eiden and Emma Bangert rose above a tough South Dakota Coyotes back line and exploited their weaknesses to score the two goals needed for UND to take a 2-1 victory to earn their first Summit League win against a team they could see again should both make the postseason tournament in the Summit League.
This game featured a lot for UND. First, Eiden earned the goal sprinting past and holding off three defenders all trying to foul her and put home a superb shot to give UND its lead. From there the Coyotes had the better run of play despite a few chances from the Fighting Hawks. Olivia Knox drew a penalty kick but her penalty shot was parried aside by Emma Harkleroad, South Dakota netminder.
Here is where the game got interesting, towards the end of the game, South Dakota had multiple chances in the 18 yard box to equalize things. Initially with about 15 minutes left, they looked to have earned a penalty kick off a handball. To his credit, official Connor Dunn checked with his assistant referees that had a better view, and the call was changed to an inadvertent whistle as the ball looked to go off the back of a UND defender, not their hand.
A few minutes later Alexis Mitchell would capitalize on a penalty kick for the Coyotes to tie things up in a game that looked to be going to overtime. However, after a lot of good chances in the game, including a quality one earlier on stopped by Harkleroad, Emma Bangert found the back of the net for her first goal of the year with 1:18 left in the match. That deciding goal lifted up the Fighting Hawks to a 1-0 record in Summit League play by defeating a Dakota-based rival.
Why wow? Well, this was a game that showed us again how good Mimi Eiden is at running past everyone. Three Coyotes tried to foul her on her goal, and she still paced through them and did not let them alter her superb shot. In addition, credit to the officiating, I have seen UND play a lot of games and I have never seen an official chat with an assistant official to get the call right.
The officials called this game evenly, and even UND Head Coach Chris Logan thought the penalty kicks called both ways could have been not called. Connor Dunn and the officials that worked yesterday kept their cool despite an understandably upset Coyotes bench after the overturned penalty kick.Give full credit to the officials for keeping the game going and being as even as they could be.
Finally, this win is monumental for this team because they showed as Logan has hammered home every time he has spoken that they truly can compete with anyone. South Dakota is a team that plays physical soccer with speed, at points in the game they manufactured chances and kept UND from exploiting their speed advantage on the wings. For this team to grit out a win like they did yesterday shows their is not limit to how they can win. Their next test is in Brookings on Sunday against the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State, Summit League Tournament hosts. How this team competes against the class of the Summit League will go a long way to determining their finish.