Superb Six

(Photo Credit:Russ Hons-UND Athletics)

Coming into today the University of North Dakota Women’s Soccer Team had a lot of things going for them. The team defense has been consistently strong once again. This young team with only three seniors is showing that it is developing chemistry quickly. The depth of this team has shown through as multiple freshman and multiple attackers had lead the way in each game.

There was one thing that needed to be improved on and was a consistent theme of every chat with UND Head Coach Chris Logan. This team needed to be better in putting home chances found in the run of play. Scoring a goal this way means not relying on set pieces especially corners. Three of UND’s four goals scored on the season coming into today had been on corner kicks. While it is nice that this team is able to score from set pieces, it is always better, like in any sport, to have diverse ways to score to keep your opponent on their heels.

Today, UND changed the routine as this team put home six goals in the run of play against a Chicago State side that, early on, stymied them with an offside trap defense that worked a few times as the Fighting Hawks were finding their footing. Mara Yapello lead the way for the Fighting Hawks with two goals to open up the scoring ledger for the Fighting Hawks. Yapello now leads the team with three scores on the season. All of that simply set the stage for what was to come in a four goal second half packed with perfection from the Fighting Hawks.

The first two goals from UND in the second came from sophomore Cassie Giddings who has proven very effective as a super sub off the bench for this team. She finished the day with a superb strike into the far corner for her goal and she would later set up Hannah McAra for her first of the season. Later on, Bailey McNitt unleashed an unstoppable ball that came from her left foot on the edge of the box and went across the goal into the top left corner.

Logan was excited to see McNitt tack on some goal scoring to her technical prowess, and this one did not disappoint. She put home arguably the most beautiful goal of the season for these Fighting Hawks to this point. Ashley Ebeling completed the scoring with a header on a superb Emma Bangert cross 77:39 into the matchup.

In goal, Catherine Klein had a deceptively quiet day for the Fighting Hawks. While she only had to make four saves on the day and was perfect doing so, she made some tough saves during the first half and spurred offense for UND immediately in one case. Even though she was not tested frequently, the quality of chances she had to stop today were arguably a bit better.

Going forward, these Fighting Hawks will face a different challenge on Sunday against Hawaii. The Hawaii side they will be facing, according to Logan, plays quite strong up the middle and through balls to the talented group of forwards that UND has will be tougher to come by. Look for these Fighting Hawks to focus on utilizing the speed of their wingers, chief among them players like Mimi Eiden.

Despite putting nothing on frame today, she was able to utilize her speed consistently to force Chicago State defenders to make tough decisions. Sunday afternoon at Bronson Field will provide another marker of where this team stands before Summit League play begins.

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.

7-1: How UND Soccer Soared Past Purdue Fort Wayne

(Photo Credit:Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Today, UND came in just outside of the Summit League Tournament picture in sixth place. Seven goals and their biggest conference victory in the Division one era vaulted the Fighting Hawks right back into postseason contention. Katie Moller lead the way with four goals, establishing herself as the most prolific goal scorer for UND in its NCAA Division One existence. Olivia Knox started things off with two goals, further reinforcing her superb rise as a sensational goal-scoring freshman for UND, and Veronica Kessler contributed her second salvo of the season to provide the final goal scoring tally for UND. Deanna Hecht provided the sole goal for the Mastadons of Purdue Fort Wayne with 2:15 left in the game on a nice move and sensational finish.

How Did This Happen?

Well, look no further than shorts and shots on goal for UND. They finished with 15 shots on net in 90 minutes of play. The Fighting Hawks played relentless throughout the entire game. 80 percent of UND’s starting field players recorded at least one shot and all of UND was able to provide depth to their offensive game today. Even though she did not score, Mimi Eiden had another impressive game today. She came inches from scoring on a rebound but was ruled down on an offside call. As always, Eiden’s speed is a great asset for UND to have and has constantly helped her teammates in creating lanes for them to score. As for Moller, we are running out of adjectives to describe how good she is at scoring goals and generating offense. She contributed to five of the seven UND goals today. Moller had four goals and one assist and came very close to being the first UND soccer player to ever score five goals in one game on a few occasions.

Now What? 

UND has almost a week to get ready for superb Summit League side South Dakota State. They take on SDSU this Friday at home in their final home match of the season. Look for SDSU to challenge the back line of UND a bit more consistently than the Mastodons did today. As a result, look for the Fighting Hawks to try more of their same style. Expect them to take the play to SDSU and try to score early and defend as needed. If UND can compete with NDSU and almost win, then they can play with absolutely any team in the conference. Friday will be a fun matchup.

NDSU Soccer Utilizes Possession Game to Defeat UND 2-1: A Recap

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

On Sunday in East Grand Forks, North Dakota faced their long time rival NDSU. This time it meant a  lot more. This was the first Division One conference match between the two as Summit League rivals. This game was a contrast between two disparate styles of soccer. NDSU plays a possession game and generates quick chances on counters. UND plays a speed game and looks to run by their opponents. We saw both of those styles on display today.

In the end, NDSU and their style won the day. UND struck first in the second, after a scoreless first half. Katie Moller took a feed from Olivia Knox and deposited one in the back of the net. That was Moller’s tenth tally this season. That goal came 51:11 into the match. Roughly 24 minutes later NDSU was pressuring and forced UND netminder to come off her line to play the ball. She could not get to it and Holly Enderle found Hanna Norman for the equalizer.

The game would not remain tied for long as Malley O’Brien was able to  convert a feed from Holly Enderle to provide the final margin. UND had more chances in the second but was only able to convert once. Olivia Swenson finished the day with five saves, and NDSU netminder Monica Polgar finished with four.

Now UND has to get ready for a tough Summit League road trip against Omaha and Denver. UND has experience playing against teams that like to hold possession in Portland and NDSU. The next challenge will be utilizing their superb depth of speed to play the game on their terms. The result was not what they wanted today, but they picked up some things they can learn from. Look for UND to try to take today’s lessons forward as they head out on the road next weekend.

Fighting Hawks Soar Past Western Illinois 5-0 and Prepare For NDSU Sunday: A Recap and Look Ahead

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Coming into today, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks soccer team had scored 1 goal in its past two games. This team was generating multiple chances against Portland and Oral Roberts, but was only able to put away one chance on a long Brittany Muller salvo on the road against Oral Roberts to give UND their first Summit League victory.

Today against Western Illinois, UND converted multiple chances on its way to a 5-0 win and a 2-0 Summit League record. Of the 11 shots on goal for the Fighting Hawks, five found their way to the back of the net. Mimi Eiden opened the goal scoring account today in the 28th minute as she was the only Fighting Hawk able to generate a goal in the first half. Four different Fighting Hawks scored in the second half to provide the final margin of victory. Brittany Muller scored her second in two games, Olivia Knox scored her second goal of the season, Cassie Giddings deposited her fifth goal of the season, and Emma Bangert contributed her second to round out the scoring for UND.

The scoreline was not indicative of how this game could have gone, the Leathernecks had three shots on goal in the first, and a few grade-a looks that forced UND netminder Olivia Swenson to be on her game.

With this superb win, which UND Head Coach Chris Logan noted that this was the best he has seen his team play all season, now what for UND?  They take on North Dakota State University this Sunday at home at 1 PM.

To this point, this is the biggest game in UND’s season as the Bison are in the mix for a top four spot in the Summit League. The top four teams make the conference tournament. Last season, UND came close to making its conference tournament but due to having a few too many ties they came up just short of their goal. They have a chance to win another match against NDSU on their home pitch this Sunday. The Bison played UND tough last year but a superb Emma Contino free kick goal and excellent defense gave UND the win on the road.

If the Fighting Hawks can keep utilizing their depth scorers like Muller, and continue to see young stars like Cassie Giddings and Mimi Eiden emerge along side senior star striker, Katie Moller, Sunday could produce a favorable outcome for UND. Regardless, look for the sterling defense of this team and its desire to win games on the attack to be what UND uses to go far. Sunday can’t come soon enough. Look for UND to prepare for the Bison on set pieces, as Logan noted the Bison’s prowess in utilizing set pieces to generate chances and goals this year.

Magnificient Moller: How Katie Moller’s Hat Trick Helped UND Fly to 3-0 Win Over Minnesota Duluth

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Last week, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks learned more about their team in Montana. They did not concede a goal in 210 minutes of play, improved their defense, and utilized opportunistic strikes from their forwards to take the first game against Idaho. Against Montana on UM’s home turf, they were able to come within inches of an extra-time penalty kick and win with their depth and speed, combined with more superb play from netminder Olivia Swenson.

Today, the team was able to draw on their goal-scorer extraordinaire, senior forward Katie Moller to propel them to the victory.Her three goals now give her six tallies on the season. She earned the first hat trick for this program since 2010 when Rachel Loomis scored three goals against South Carolina State.

Moller’s goals came from three different fighting Hawks. Megan Wright, Ashley Ebeling, and Cassie Giddings all contributed to Katie’s superb day. In addition, these goals each showcased how Moller is able to deal with oppenents,either with speed or by winning battles. She won a battle on a throw in and did not miss for her second score, and was able to use her precision shot on the first and third goals to provide the difference for UND.

As for the rest of the game, Head Coach Chris Logan noted that Minnesota Duluth played quite well. Without Moller on the field this result may have been a bit different. In addition, give credit to the entire UND team for playing sound defense. While they gave up a lot of chances, as Minnesota Duluth had 12 shots total, only six of those were able to get on goal to goalie Olivia Swenson. She has earned the starting job through her consistent play and ability to help set up attacks for UND.

Unlike previous years where she started, Swenson is not being asked to make 15 or more saves a game. She praises her defense at every chance she can, and because of them has less work each game. Thanks to UND’s ability to limit chances on net, the Fighting Hawks will be competitive in the games they play the rest of the way.

The next test for the Fighting Hawks comes Sunday at 2 PM against Bemidji State. The Beavers’ team speed will be the biggest thing UND has to contend with on the fast turf surface this Sunday.

Three Quick Thoughts on UND Soccer’s Preseason Opener 5-1 Victory:Beyond The Box Score

Last night, the University of North Dakota Soccer team got off to a fast start in their preseason opener against the University of Manitoba Bisons. They won the game 5-1 on a goal eight seconds in from Katie Moller, and a superb showing by freshman playing their first game helped spur the Fighting Hawks to an exhibition win.

  1. When the coaching staff mentioned which recruits that would contribute this year, each of them had a different answer. Head Coach Chris Logan’s answer of Olivia Knox proved very timely yesterday. She had a superb game getting multiple chances and using her speed to keep the offense going. Knox had two goals and an assist. The goals came from her crashing the net on a free kick rebound, and drawing a foul in the box. Knox converted the penalty kick she earned.
  2. Although she did not score a goal, Mimi Eiden, sophomore forward used her speed on the fast turf surface at East Grand Forks to setup numerous chances. The coaching staff was impressed with the winter and spring seasons she had, the 423 fans at last night’s game can understand why. We all knew that Eiden plays fast and uses her speed to generate chances, this turf field could propel her to even greater heights this year as she builds on a solid freshman campaign.
  3. Although Logan was quite happy with the offense, and pace of the game, one thing to watch as UND takes on South Dakota Saturday is its defense. Manitoba scored its only goal on a superb long shot towards the end of the game by utilizing gaps in UND’s defense. If the Fighting Hawks can matchup well against a Summit League squad on Saturday, even in exhibition play, it will be a sign of good things to come this season. The Fighting Hawks showed strong defense last season, if it can figure out the turf field and the offense can build on last night’s performance, good things are in store this season for UND.