UND Soccer: Some more breaths

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Every home game this year for UND Soccer has had them warm up to a diverse playlist including a clean version of Future’s song entitled “Last Breath”, one lyric in the song that stands out because it personifies the mentality of this team is below:

“I got angels all around me, yeah, yeah
I got love all around me, yeah, yeah
I’ll be a fighter ’til the end, ’til my last breath
I’ma hustle ’til my last breath”

This bit of the song personifies the mentality of this team this season. Thanks to a Mary DeWalt marker for the Pioneers of Denver on Sunday, UND earned a place in the tournament over their in state rival whom they outplayed in most metrics other than score, the Bison of North Dakota State. This team has shown all year that they consistently hustle until the clock strikes zero or the golden goal goes in. In addition, this is a team greater than the sum of its parts which in and of themselves are pretty good.

This Fighting Hawks team has been in nearly every game they have played this year throughout the entire 90 minutes, with one of their rare exceptions being in the 7-0 loss to the Pioneers. In that game, Mimi Eiden had the first good chance and did not convert before the Pioneers put away two goals late in the half. Head Coach Chris Logan then opened up the pace of play in the second half which lead to more chances for UND, but also more goals for Denver on the counter attack. Logan was happier with the effort from his team that day than in their 1-0 overtime loss to Oral Roberts, because of the quality of chances created against the Summit League Regular Season Champion was higher.

The forward group for this Fighting Hawks side has been impressive to watch this season. While Mimi Eiden lead the way with goals scored and is often the fastest player on the pitch, that, to me at least is not what stood out most about her play this season. She has been able to consistently track back on balls and plays the entire length of the pitch as needed. In addition, she has developed her finishing throughout the season and still has another to play for this Fighting Hawks side.

In addition to Eiden, freshman sensation Bailey McNitt has provided another spark to this team. She plays a sound technical game with a lot of the speed of Eiden and an ability to generate top flight crosses. Her most memorable moment this season was coming off the bench to take a corner kick in double overtime against the Gaels of Saint Mary’s that found its way off Meghan Wilson’s foot and into the back of the net for the golden goal.

Olivia Knox has added to her superb freshman season with another strong one this year. Her value to this team has been her ability to play in the midfield or forward as needed. She started the year in more of a central defensive midfield role before moving back to her forward position as the temperature fell and the meaning of the games went up. Her consistent presence for this team regarding getting and holding the ball through the midfield and setting up the talented wingers this team has cannot be understated.

Finally, on defense, Hannah Olson has been this team’s most consistent defender leading a strong back line of players who allow the talented forwards on this team to push forward as needed. Olson often dispossesses players of the ball and dishes it the other way pretty quickly, she can join the attack as needed, and is just a freshman.

These are just some of the standouts this team has had this year, this is the most well rounded team Logan has had, and they face Denver at 3 PM tomorrow. If this team wants its season to have breath in the Summit League Championship, they need to score first against Denver and defend without sacrificing any attack to do so. Easier said than done as the Pioneers have multiple award winners leading the way for them, but keeping this all in perspective, a team with three seniors and a talented underclassmen core gets another chance to challenge one of the most veteran teams the Summit League has. At the beginning of the year, Logan planned to get his team in the tournament.

The Fighting Hawks can now prove some people wrong tomorrow against the Pioneers, and regardless of result, this season will go on until its last breath because of the hustle and dedication of this team to consistent development. Whatever the result, this team has set the standard for team soccer in the Division One Era so all Fighting Hawks teams that come after it have a much higher benchmark to reach for.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of UND Athletics please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about UND Athletics as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston.

 

Fighting Hawks just outpace Michigan Tech 3-1 on Kawaguchi game winner: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

On Saturday night, in front of 10899 people at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks faced off against a stout defending, hard-charging, Michigan Tech Huskies team that has on its resume a win over WCHA foe Bowling Green among others. For most of the game, the all-world student section for Michigan Tech carried the energy of the building.

Mitch’s Misfits, the student section that made the journey to the Ralph, had something to cheer about early on as Justin Mislak took a feed from Alex Smith and went on the backhand through the five hole of UND goalie, Adam Scheel. The Huskies lead for a few minutes in the first, but after a Matt Kiersted point shot went off the center right post and in from the far point, they would never regain the lead.

Throughout the rest of the game, it resembled at times a territorial soccer match where teams would march down the pitch or rink in this case regularly and then not be able to finish. Huskies’ netminder Robbie Beydoun finished the night with 21 saves on 23 shots saved. One thing stood out about some of his saves, especially on the penalty kill. The Fighting Hawks, according to Head Coach Brad Berry were often too predictable with the man advantage, and it seemed like Beydoun was able to anticipate shots often before UND took them.

The game winner for UND came on four-on-four action. Jordan Kawaguchi took a feed from Colin Adams stationed along the half wall. In the middle of a Tech defense listing to the wall Kawaguchi found the back of the net for the game winner shooting against the momentum of the defense 12:29 into the third period. Gavin Hain added an insurance marker with 27 seconds left in the game on the empty net.

Hain played with Mark Senden and Cole Smith tonight. Coach Berry reincarnated the GMC (Gavin Hain, Mark Senden, Cole Smith) line. Like the brand of car this line was UND’s most dependable for large portions of the season last year, and this line was able to hold possession and earn chances at multiple points. Senden finished the night winning 9 of the 16 faceoffs he took, and his line was on the ice a lot at big points in the game, and could be back together again.

On defense, Gabe Bast and Colton Poolman were out and replaced by Ethan Frisch and Josh Rieger. The Captain of UND, Poolman, was pulled after an evaluation on gameday, and Berry hopes to know more about his long-term status before next week. His uncertainty was not reassuring to say the least, relating to the best all-around defender this team has coming back soon.

Now What?

This team had a lot of points where the Huskies, to be honest, made them play their game. The Huskies were also much more physical with the Fighting Hawks at eliminating the value of their net-front presence that they had worked for over the first few games. Getting to the net was not how UND won this game, as the Huskies eliminated rebounds and second looks. Berry’s point about being methodical could be applied to even strength play as well. When this team can not only create chances on rebounds but keep their opponents guessing, good things could happen. In addition, this team has to learn how to win games in different ways.

Net front presence is great, but this team has has now seen what better defending teams can do to limit the value of it. If they can both get one or two rebound goals off the net-front investment per game and one or two more off skill per game, it will ensure both options remain open. As this team plays the Red Hawks of Miami, watch how they play an always fast team looking to move up in the NCHC world. If UND can convert a chance or two on the rush each night, a sweep may be in order, if not, well ask again later.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of UND Athletics please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about UND Athletics as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Supporters: We thank all of our readers and those who donate, especially Greg and Michelle Livingston.

UND Athletics Unsung Heroes:Men’s Hockey and Soccer

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Here at Seamore Sports, we take pride in looking beyond the box score and covering unsung heroes for their contributions on the field, rink, or anywhere else Fighting Hawks and collegiate student athletes play.

It is in that spirit that we look to start a weekly feature on unsung heroes for the Fighting Hawks. Every week we will talk about one unsung hero for a men’s and women’s team so you will read about two student athletes’ on-field exploits not readily apparent by a mere viewing of the box score or recaps published after the game.

First, let’s discuss UND Soccer. The Fighting Hawks have won ten games for the first time since moving to Division One, and finish out their regular season this week against the Bison of North Dakota State on the road under the lights in Fargo at 6 PM on Thursday. The female unsung hero of the past week is redshirt freshman defender Hannah Olson. If you want to see why this team has been able to play forward so much and put more pressure on opposing teams’ back lines, looking to UND’s defense as a major strength is one reason this team is doing so well. So many times this season, and against Omaha this past week, UND Head Coach Chris Logan when asked has noted her play as superb on the back line. So many teams in the Summit League have superb goal scorers, and baring the game against Denver where Logan noted that he was moving players forward for the last 45 minutes, this team has given up no more than two goals at home. That is a hard feat in the Summit League, and tough to complete against an Omaha side playing for its postseason life on Sunday.

Olson has been at the forefront of UND’s defense all year. She consistently make superb reads on attacking players and is quite skilled, as she showed Sunday, in angling attacks out to the side to allow her back line to reset and push things forward.She has often been the answer to the “who had the best game in the field not based on the box score” question and their variations this year. Olson is a major key to this Fighting Hawks’ defense and does not get talked about as much as their superb attacking group. Without Olson’s superb play on the back line against Omaha, one has to think that the Mavericks could have gone up 2-0 in the first half with more chances. That one goal difference made a world of difference in the second half as it allowed the Fighting Hawks to keep playing their game.

Olson’s superb ability to read the angles and get the ball forward when asked has gone without a lot of if any mention from those not playing for the team. She is the Female Unsung Hero for UND Athletics this past week and one of the key reasons why this is the best team in the Division One Era the Fighting Hawks have had based on record. Hannah Olson is the Female Unsung Hero of the Week for the Fighting Haw

weatherby 2

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

As to Men’s Hockey, let’s talk some more about Jasper Weatherby and what he did for his team in the past weekend. The Sharks’ prospect did not put up a goal, but he did run the faceoff dot for this team both nights. In addition, he is continuing to own the net front for the Fighting Hawks and is a consistent presence for this team. Head Coach Brad Berry compared his prowess in the dot to recently to recently departed Rhett Gardner. Weatherby adding this element to his game has been a massive part of why UND has started so well.

When the Fighting Hawks play well in all of their zones, it comes to how they start, winning the faceoff and Weatherby’s development in the dot, combined with his net front presence were important parts of the sweep over Bemidji State. Even when he has a zero point night, his presence screening the goalie and strong work in the dot are essential to the continued success of this team. Weatherby is the Male Unsung Hero of the Week for the Fighting Hawks.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of UND Athletics please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about UND Athletics as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for  all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

 

UND Soccer makes history: Now What?

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Today at Bronson Field, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Soccer Team made history. For the first time since the school took its athletics to the Division One Level, and for the first time since 2006, this program won its tenth game of the season today in a 5-2 decision against the Mavericks of Omaha.

What made this victory so encouraging and uplifting to see was who helped out and how they did. First, the team was down to its only remaining goaltender on the roster.Head Coach Chris Logan noted that he had to communicate with his captains to find a backup in case of an emergency today as he and his staff were not sure which outfield players had any goalkeeping experience. Hallie Byzewski made her debut for this team, and her first ever start. Despite letting in a tough to play goal from Sydney Randall on an arching long shot aided by the wind just 14 minutes into the match, she held tough. Towards the end of the first half Byzewski had to make a couple of saves on two wonderful UNO chances point blank that would have pushed the deficit to 2-0. She finished her debut with much success and made those two saves on four shots total. Looking beyond the box score with Hallie, seeing her come in and start her first ever game of college soccer with UND needing to break out of a two game losing streak and secure a mid table finish in the Summit League, on a very treacherous weather day was heartening. Logan has credited assistant coach Amanda Raso with developing three wonderful goalkeepers and today was another showcase of how she develops goalies. Byzewski was confident in her reads and did not look at all out of place as she made multiple good reads on crosses or through balls to extinguish chances before Omaha could record a shot on target.

On to the exploits of the outfield players, throughout the game, before clawing the lead away from Omaha in the second half and after, the Fighting Hawks were the superior team. They played with the same speed and dedication they did in the 7-0 loss to Denver but this time were rewarded for their efforts on the scoreboard.

Ashley Ebeling opened the scoring with a high arching cross that she expertly curled into the back of the net 58:27 into the game sending Bronson Field into an uproar. She took a feed from Olivia Knox and did not miss her chance to tie things up. Ebeling and her back line featuring Hannah Olson had a superb day for the Fighting Hawks.

The Mavericks had very few good looks throughout the game, and their second goal scored down 4-1 was really the only defensive miscue of the day as Laurin Mertz worked in and found the low far post to provide the last goal Omaha would score. Ebeling thought Olson had her best game of the season as she asserted herself and won possession on many tough plays and helped reverse the field quickly for the Fighting Hawks.

Megan Wright was the next to improve her goals tally as she was able to rocket home a ball to the top corner of the frame just over three minutes after the Ebeling tally. At this point the scoreboard began to reflect the reality of the game. Wright finished the game with a goal and assist.

Roughly nine minutes after the Wright marker, Mara Yapello provided what would be the game winning goal on the day as she put home a lose ball in the box. She was rewarded for her hard work as like Wright she consistently pushed the pace forward and had Omaha on their heels.

2:02 after the Yapello marker, Olivia Knox found the back of the net. She played more of an up front role for the Fighting Hawks today and was able to direct a header into the near corner to add some insurance for UND. The sophomore versatile player picked her spot and did not miss. Knox had not only a nice header, but an uncontested one as she soared on Bronson Field as she provided the decisive goal on the day. Although she has played more of a central defensive midfielder role for this team, she showed today what fans and media know about her, she can play up front whenever she is asked and knows how to find the back of the net.

Finally, Mimi Eiden would round out the goal scoring for UND. She put home her eighth goal of the season 83:26 into this one on a loose ball in the box. Eiden has been at the forefront of so many good chances for this team and Logan was proud of her for being able to be rewarded for her effort. Whenever she is on the pitch, she is one of if not the fastest players on the field, and her ability to find the tiniest gaps in an opposing defense is a wonderful thing to see. This program and every Fighting Hawks fan is lucky that she is on this team for another year after this one to say the least. She played 54 minutes coming off the bench today and as always pushed the pace as much as she could.

Going forward what does this win mean? Well for one, if the Fighting Hawks make the Summit League Tournament after their regular season finale Thursday on the road against the Bison of North Dakota State, Chris Logan should receive serious Summit League Coach of the Year consideration. In three short years he has not only improved the on field results for this team and guided them to the Summit League, but he has also changed the mentality of everyone associated with this program. Under multiple coaches that preceded him, the mentality was strictly a counter-attacking one.

If UND scored first they would let the opponent come to them and try to defend and hope to maybe win a game 1-0. That mentality and style of soccer exited this program when Logan was hired. He and his staff have recruited a confident group of players and developed those here under the previous coach to play a different game of soccer. Logan did something so antithetical to the UND Soccer of old that it was honestly fun to watch on Thursday despite the result.

The Fighting Hawks attacked a strong Denver team all game and came up short 7-0 despite earning some looks. Today, they converted a lot of those similar quality looks in less than ideal conditions. Multiple times this team has been scored on first, not ideal in any sport, especially in soccer, and multiple times they have answered back with today being no exception to that ability to answer back.

On Thursday in Fargo the Fighting Hawks face a massive test from the Bison. They took the class of the Summit League in South Dakota State to the brink and lost to them 1-0 on the road. They are lead in net by all world goalie, senior Monica Polgar who recently made her career save number 300. Up front the Bison are lead by Elyse Huber who has 10 goals on 36 shots on target. Huber and Polgar lead the way for this Bison team, and are some of the best players in their positions throughout the Summit League.

The Fighting Hawks face a tough test on Thursday night with everything to play for, although nothing is assured as to their postseason fate, the ability to earn any points against a tough and veteran Bison side is the goal. Thursday night in Fargo under the lights we will see another iteration of UND-NDSU with massive postseason implications for both teams. If UND maintains the spark that bore no fruit on Thursday against Denver in the second half that carried over through today’s win, anything can be possible for this team.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories like the superb one UND Soccer is writing please click this link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about UND Athletics as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for  all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

 

UND Sweeps Bemidji State- What to look for next

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight at a sold out Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks needed to get off to a good start in their series finale against an always tight-checking Bemidji State Beavers side eager for a split. They did just that as 36 seconds in, Jordan Kawaguchi made Beavers’ netminder Henry Johnson pay for playing the puck behind his own net. He created a turnover and fired the puck to Grant Mismash who buried it in the wide open net. This goal set the tone for the period and evening at large. 16:56 into the first period, Cole Smith used a wrap around to end up bouncing a puck to Mark Senden who found the back of the net in tight shooting to an empty net as Johnson over played the first shot.

That would remain the margin through the first period and most of the second as the Fighting Hawks controlled the pace of things through the game. Jonny Tychonick added an insurance marker in the second as Mismash would add a primary assist to his ledger. He found Tychonick activating into the rush and wired across a superb pass. Jonny potted his first career goal on that rush and slammed into the boards in celebration. As UND Head Coach Brad Berry noted, it was good to see him finally get rewarded for the offensive prowess he brings to the UND blue line. Colton Poolman added an empty net marker late in the third period to restore a three goal lead after Aaron Miller found the back of the net for the Beavers 18 seconds earlier.

Now, the Fighting Hawks have one week to get ready for a one game date with the Huskies of Michagan Tech at the Ralph. How they continue the last five periods of play from this weekend will determine the result.

Beyond the scoring, UND goalie Adam Scheel played well tonight, especially as the game progressed and made more tough saves throughout the waves Bemidji State was trying to throw at the Fighting Hawks. He finished with 19 saves on the night and had a big role in keeping things calm as UND grew its lead.

In addition, Brad Berry praised Jasper Weatherby for the consistency in his game. He has begun to fill the very important role vacated by Rhett Gardner. Weatherby is now the center the staff looks to when they need a big draw won in the defensive zone to stymie a potential chance. Adding his skill at the dot is a big addition to the team this year. While he did not score for the Fighting Hawks he again spent a lot of the night parked in front of the Bemidji State net and tipped some pucks wide and just missed a few others.

In addition,  the staff mixed up the lines a little bit tonight. They rewarded Josh Rieger with time as the seventh defenseman and slotted in Casey Johnson up front. Both players played their roles, and we could see them more this year. The lineup changes were made in part due to how last night’s game finished and the coaches wanting to get different players some game action.

Next week will provide another test against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Tonight, against a decent Bemidji State team that makes life tough for their opponents when able to defend we saw the blueprint to win for this team executed to perfection. Score early, and make responsible plays throughout to add insurance as needed. When this team can make other teams open up their game to try and score just to catch up, good things will happen.

This team has too much skill to try and play grind heavy games as a first resort if not needed, if they can get one quick and defend that allows them to roll all of their skaters and not need to worry about shortening the bench. It may not seem like much now, but spreading out minutes for as long as possible will help later on in the year. Developing depth to add with skill is not a bad idea, and hopefully this team can do so as we progress in this still early on season.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories you will not see elsewhere about UND Hockey and other college hockey teams, please click this link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story we right as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

UND Football: Regarding playoffs, ask again later

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

The Fighting Hawks dispatched their third ranked side this afternoon as they vanquished the number nine ranked Bobcats of Montana State 16-12 thanks to a recovered blocked punt for a touchdown and a defense that held them in the game, limiting the Bobcats big plays and keeping the team in the game.

Now UND heads into a bye week for the second time this season with a chance to rest up, especially on defense where injuries have forced underclassmen to step into bigger roles a bit faster than initially thought.

What does all of this mean for where UND should be ranked? Well one could argue for ranking the Fighting Hawks in the low 20’s based on their win this weekend and without looking at the rest of the FCS I could certainly see that. It is a subject that will be debated fiercely by pundits and fans, especially those who interact with Brian McLaughlin and Sam Herder of Hero Sports who have two of the votes in the FCS Stats Poll publish their ballot and in at least Brian’s case why he votes the way he does as well.

Sam discusses his picks and votes extensively with Brian on their weekly podcast hosted through Hero Sports, give it a listen sometimes, these are two of the most plugged in folks in the FCS you will meet. They follow every team in the country at this level to the best of their ability and this sport is better because of them.

To re-purpose a phrase from Brian he likes to use when describing things in the FCS landscape, on this UND team we need to see more data. That is yes, the win today is great and this Fighting Hawks side has shown resiliency throughout the year when dealing with adversity. Can we overlook the Idaho State loss and potentially the Eastern Washington losses on the road?  Maybe we can if UND plays well enough to allow it.

If this team goes 7-4 in total and loses one of its last two home games that look winnable against Northern Colorado or Southern Utah, do they make the playoffs over say a 7-5 win team with an FBS win and a better strength of schedule. I do not know. I honestly don’t know what to make of this team other than they merit perhaps a low rank in the applicable polls and a spot on the good side of the bubble, for now. The polls, especially the FCS Stats Poll are merely a snapshot of a wide open landscape of football full of wonderful people who cover the game to the best of their ability.

If a MEAC team like the Aggies of North Carolina A&T finishes second and does not make the Celebration Bowl, and finishes with a 9-2 or 8-3 record and UND loses a must win game at home should they be in over the Aggies at that record with a 7-4 finish? I do not know. Southern Illinois could finish 7-5 and have a case to be in over the Fighitng Hawks as they have an FBS win to their credit.

As to the Fighting Hawks, their decision to play 11 games will either be a stroke of genius or seen as myopic if they finish on the wrong side of the bubble if they finish 7-4 and are eclipsed by a 7-5 team with an FBS win or a 9 or 8 win MEAC team like the Aggies? That is the reality of a 12 game maximum schedule season. Schools make their choice and live with the results and consequences, good and bad either way.

What I know for sure is this team needs to have a strong finish and go 8-3 to remove more questioning articles like this being written. If this team wins out it will 100 percent make the playoffs barring some odd circumstances around the FCS. In that case we will be focused on UND’s first or second round opponent depending on their position in the field.

In a few weeks if UND finishes out of the playoffs due to losing any of its must win games at home or being on the bad side of the bubble beating Weber State and losing the other two games then the questions raised by those not voting for or voting for UND lower will be valid.

All of this is to say, do not read too much into the polls this week or next week. UND needs to win three more games to remove as much doubt as possible and cement a playoff spot and potential national seed. This team will not (hopefully) focus on the polls and keep their eyes on Weber State. They face a potential top 10 opponent on the road in their last chance to add a quality win to their resume before playing two must win games to end the season.

To those following this team, focus on the on field results. They guide the polls and what writers will say about UND’s playoff chances. More data is required to determine the fate of the 2019 UND Football team, two weeks from now is the next chance to acquire some based on their result against Weber State.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories you will not see elsewhere about UND Football and other college football teams, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story we write as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Fighting Hawks claw to earn 2-1 overtime win over Bemidji State

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Coming into this game, the Fighting Hawks needed to get off to a good start as always. To beat the Beavers of Bemidji State teams typically have better success when scoring first and forcing a team that plays a neutral zone trap where it is hard to establish possession on offense to open up their scheme a bit.

That was not what happened to start this one off. Over the first ten minutes the shot attempts were heavily skewed in favor of the Beavers as they looked to impose their will on this game. They were rewarded for those efforts as they converted on a power play goal as Owen Sillinger staked the Beavers to a lead that would last all the way through 14:13 into the third period.

While Sillinger’s tally came in the second period, that was really the last consistent chance the Beavers had. Head Coach Brad Berry had to use his timeout early in the first period and calm his team down. From then on, minus the Sillenger tally on the power play , the Fighting Hawks controlled the pace of play.

One thing Brad Betty did as the game went on was shorten the bench. His new line combinations rewarded the roughly three lines of forwards that skated well for the Fighting Hawks towards the end of the game.

14:13 into the third period, Jacob Bernard-Docker was able to make a scintillating seem pass off the half wall through traffic in the Bemidji State zone. Jordan Kawaguchi found himself at the front of the net and did not miss his tip in chance to tie the game up and force overtime.

In overtime, Shane Pinto won a draw 52 seconds into the extra frame and won it clean back to Westin Michaud. The graduate transfer from Colorado College who was recruited by in total, roughly 42 teams before choosing to come play for UND, sent in a superb shot from above the left faceoff dot and earned the overtime victory for UND.

On the evening, Adam Scheel made a few key saves and was not tested a whole lot in net for the Fighting Hawks as he made 16 saves. on 17 shots Sometimes games where goalies do not make a lot of saves but have to bail their team out on occasion can be more tough mentally than making a 30 plus save effort under duress. In net for the Beavers, Zach Driscoll played well and snuffed out a lot of second chance looks for the Fighting Hawks. He saved 25 of 27 shots on the night and when the Beavers held their 1-0 lead and were trying to see out the game had my first star vote before things changed after the Kawaguchi marker.

For the Finale 

To beat Bemidji State twice, given how the Beavers attack you with their neutral zone trap, they force you to be perfect through the neutral zone and make you choose your destiny. If you dump the puck in, often times they retrieve it and get an easy breakout. If you can carry it in as Brad Berry wants his team to do, you can get an easier initial look that can lead to a rebound or tip in chance before they establish themselves in the neutral zone. If UND plays like they did post timeout in the first period, they should have every chance to secure a sweep.

If Bemidji State limits the Fighting Hawks to low percentage chances like they did through the first, we could see a different result in the finale. In the first period, a mere two of the Fighting Hawks’ 11 shot attempts came from within the low slot. Keep that in mind for the finale, quality shots matter more in terms of location than the total shots on net do, a lesson this team is seeming to learn so far.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories you will not see elsewhere about UND Hockey and other college hockey teams, please click this link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story we right as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

More than the scoreline: UND Soccer

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Yesterday, the Fighting Hawks Women’s Soccer Team took on perennial Summit League power, the Pioneers of Denver University, and came out on the short end of a 7-0 score over at Bronson Field.

Is that score not ideal for a team trying to make the postseason and needing probably at least four points to assure a spot? Of course it is not ideal. Does this team have the same mentality as it did under former Bench Boss, Matt Kellogg where one goal per game was typically the most his teams scored at least in conference play?

My goodness no it does not.

This team actually played more aggressive aginst Denver down two to start the second half. As a result, Madi Livingston on her debut start had to make several tough saves, and her making seven on 14 shots is not in any way indicative of her skill. If you could assign extra points to a goalie for saving quality shots, she would have easily earned a lot of them on the day. Head Coach Chris Logan had nothing but praise for how Livingston played given the circumstances of the game and the plan in the second half.

As to the field players for UND, Mimi Eiden had a nice chance for the Fighting Hawks before Denver found their footing and it was saved by Brittany Wilson. On the day that was one of their better chances. Logan also praised Bailey McNitt’s play off the wing, as she has played like a seasoned veteran all year being able to possess and distribute at will at times.

For all of this angst of Friday, at the end of the day it equates to one loss. This team still has all of its goals in front of it, but needs to convert any early opportunity it can against an Omaha team hungry to climb ahead of them in the standings. This team as Logan has said multiple times can compete with anyone. Really the only game in the Summit Leauge that this team was not able to generate much of anything was the 1-0 loss to Oral Roberts, and even then they still had a late chance to win it before a penalty kick goal in overtime sealed their fate.

Come out to Bronson Field Sunday at one o’clock p.m. This is the last home game for a team with so much to play for, and one still looking for its tenth win. This Fighting Hawks side, no matter their final destination has advanced UND Soccer so much, its final extent yet to be determined.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories like the superb one UND Soccer is writing please click this link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about UND Athletics as a supporter of independent, crowd funded journalism that can truly be free for all: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

 

 

Looking ahead: Support independent journalism

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

When Kelsey Sagvold, my wife, helped spark my desire to begin covering sports especially UND sports full time, I never thought Seamore Sports would stick around this long. Without a single dime being spent on this site we have averaged over 10000 views per year.

Does that seem like a lot compared to others around us? Well no, it can be a lot more.

Considering that when we started this blog we were amazed that people took the time to even read what we have to say on a game or player, we are always humbled for every view we get.

Last year, when UND Football played Mississippi Valley State, I noticed something. While UND has a wonderful faction of people covering its revenue sports, other schools and even the less viewed sports here do not have the same luxury. We enjoyed providing coverage of the Delta Devils and still try to follow them along with countless other schools and teams around this country as we can, while also writing about games we can attend here at the University of North Dakota.

Before explaining what’s next I want to thank a few people. First, Kelsey, without your thoughts and motivation, without them none of this would have happened. You showed me something that my parents, Jim and Cindy first made me realize, beyond covering sport at any level, I enjoy covering the lesser known stories about any team.

Growing up in Baltimore, I was and still am fascinated by backups and bench players. Watching backup catchers hit for the Orioles, to me, brought just as much of a thrill as seeing stars play for the team growing up.

My parents first sparked that passion and Kelsey helped me figure out how to be consistent with writing and build a brand. We have a long way to go on that front, but there is no one else I would rather be working on Seamore Sports with than Kelsey. Her photos, especially of UND Hockey, have been seen and shared by many and drive people to click on a lot of my hockey recaps.

In addition, I want to thank the UND Athletics Department of Communications, first, former head honcho Jayson Hajdu. He helped facilitate my first ever interview via email with former UND defenseman, Nick Mattson, when I was working for the Indiana Ice.

After that, he helped get Kelsey credentials to take photos when I was working for the Elmira Jackals, the former ECHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. Since then he has done so much for us, never treating either of us any different than the biggest media outlet in town. Jayson made coverage of UND Hockey possible yes, but helped facilitate increased coverage of UND Soccer and made sure we now have a seat at the table. In addition to Jayson, I would like to thank Matt Scheerer, Mitch Wigness, Alec Johnson, and so many more. All of you have made us feel as welcome as you would any other media member, and provided us access to interview players after games and for features as needed. This merely scratches the surface of what this department has done for us, and I could write a tome on what the department means to Kelsey and I.

I would also like to thank members of the local media, your perspectives on each game we work have informed my writing and made me look at different details and always help me look for more to write about than the mere box score. Whether its Brad Schlossman correctly predicting a good goal on review that I may disagree with, Tom Miller noting something else to keep an eye on with UND Football, or anyone else in the media whose perspectives are invaluable, thank you. If I wrote down everyone of whom to thank for getting Seamore Sports to this point I could fill up many a novel with them.

What does all of this mean? 

Well let’s go back to the example from last year’s game between UND and Mississippi Valley State for a minute. The coverage i gave the Delta Devils perspective for that game brought me back to that same desire to learn more about the lesser known team or player that I have always had. Some of our best numbers in terms of traffic came from coverage of that game, and we were happy to provide info and coverage for MVSU, as we would be and are for any visitor that comes here.

One day, hopefully soon, Kelsey and I would love to be able to provide that same dedicated coverage to all who want it. While you can go to sites like the Athletic to learn more beyond the box score things for high level college sports, and professional sports, there is yet to be a site that provides a similar service, not behind a paywall, for college sports around the country.

That is what Seamore Sports aims to be, and we want to offer a chance to our readers, wherever you are to pitch in and guide coverage. We will work with any athletic department or minor league team in the country and even around the world to provide high quality coverage of the teams you care about.

Over the coming months we will be expanding onto YouTube, into podcasting on a more permanent basis, and providing more outlets for all in sport to have their voices heard.

That goal to expand requires time and money to do so, and that is why I am writing this modest plea. If you donate to the PayPal at the link below at any amount, and want to be listed on certain stories I am happy to do so and will begin to add a funded by section at the end of each article. If you want me to have features written about your team, about what you care about, please consider donating. As we expand I will offer you and/or your business advertising opportunities via our social media spaces, and hope to grow our offerings. We will still write about UND and relish the opportunity to cover as many Fighting Hawks games in person as we can, that will not change any time soon.

Where the UND fans who follow us could help is, again with donating. As other media entities who cover this team move behind paywalls, your donation can empower us to keep providing content free for all.

For example, we are the only outlet that has covered multiple UND Soccer matches in person this season, and the team is on the cusp of winning its tenth match and having its best ever record, yet they have received a fraction of the coverage that other sports here have. We think that crowd-funded independent journalism that can cover games in person or online, and truly crowd-funded journalism that writes about what you want to see more of is a way to empower more discussion about all sports and their players around the world regardless of revenue generating potential.

If you donate and want to remain anonymous that is wonderful and we thank you. If you want to donate and have some thoughts about things we could be covering message Seamore Sports on Twitter or Facebook. We want to cover things you want to see.

If you want to donate a little bit more or run a business that would like to sponsor posts about a team be it here or anywhere in this country, that would also be welcome. Over the coming months Seamore Sports hopes to grow by leaps and bounds with the end goal of providing coverage of all college and minor pro teams for free to you, our most important constituent, the reader.

Thank you for reading, thank you for following along, this is not the end of Seamore Sports, but hopefully the beginning of something much bigger. Be you Fighting Hawks fan or fan of a team around the country you would like to see more coverage of please consider donating. Being able to cover those not being covered on a full time basis is the goal of all of this and we will have more info soon, while always welcoming ideas and feedback along the way. Kelsey and I want to show our eleven month old son, Henrik, that anything is truly possible and to be able to provide for our family and cover sports so many Americans follow with a great passion but are not getting the time or attention they deserve would be the ideal definition of a business founded on helping others receive attention for their good work while building a brand focused on covering sport at any level.

If you want to donate click the link here: https://bit.ly/2W8qXnU

 

Eight Unanswered: How UND Earned a Series Sweep over Canisius and Now What?

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

In front of a nearly sold out Ralph Engelstad Arena crowd, the Fighting Hawks played Canisius similarly to start the match like they did last night, and in their ignominious series sweep at the hands of the Golden Griffins last January. Griffins Head Coach Trevor Large noted that his team needed to be better at shortening their passes and simplifying their game.

Ausin Alger got that message for the visitors as he took a feed from David Melaragani and walked in a mere 4:05 into the first period and stunned the crowd. He went bar down on UND netminder Adam Scheel to give the Griffins their first lead of the weekend.

That lead would last into the second period. Once again the Fighting Hawks were presented with a chance to score a bushel of goals before their opening salvo as Canisisus again spent most of the evening down a skater. J.D Pogue earned the honor with a kneeing major penalty and a game misconduct 12 minutes into the first period. While no goals were scored, the penalty kill tired out the Griffins and it would bear dividends later on in the evening. UND was able to build off of the major penalty and used the extra skater it had with Canisius being down a man to their advantage later on in this one.

In the second, 1:03 after a Shane Pinto penalty shot was stopped by Jacob Barczewski, 7:24 in to the frame, Mark Senden took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi and wired it home on the weak side to start the scoring bonanza that followed. Colin Adams and Gabe Bast would pitch in markers to end the second period and put the lead at two.

The third period is where the deluge of goals came as Cole Smith twice added to the tally along with, Harison Blaisdell, Andrew Peski, and Westin Michaud all pitched in markers to secure the 8-1 win. Jordan Kawaguchi lead the assists on the evening with three and earned second star honors on the evening. Again, Jasper Weatherby had another good night in the faceoff circle (11-4) along with Shane Pinto (11-7).

With key players like Rhett Gardner moving on, we have begun to see the staff rely on Weatherby and Pinto so far to win faceoffs in key moments. For instance, Head Coach Brad Berry singled out Pinto for winning a faceoff on his off side in UND’s end at a key point in the game. UND’s faceoff numbers are good for those two, but Berry noted a need for it to be by committee and those two were the only skaters to win double digit draws.

While Scheel finished with 11 saves on the evening, his biggest challenge was staying engaged during the countless times UND seemed to take up residence in the Canisius defensive zone. He looked pretty good but does not have enough of a body of work to judge yet, like the rest of this team.

Now What? 

Their next test against Minnesota State Mankato, one of the best teams in the nation, will tell us a lot more about the potential for this team the rest of the year. If this team can put together a complete game, like it did tonight, and force the Mavericks to play perfect hockey to beat them, things could go well on the road. If UND gets away from rebound goals, cross crease goals, and tries too much to score off the rush, then we will be in a repeat of the last season.

A test against a top ten team in the nation next weekend on the road is a good measuring stick for this team, and will provide them plenty of film before they return home in two weeks to take on the always defensively sound Bemidji State Beavers.