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.

Fighting Hawks Earn 5-0 Season Opening win Over Canisius: Two Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, in front of over 11,000 brave souls who braved the terrible conditions of a fall blizzard, the Fighting Hawks of the University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey team earned a season opening win over the Golden Griffins of Canisius 5-0.

Shane Pinto opened up the scoring for UND in the first period, he was joined later on by Dixon Bowen who potted two markers on the evening along with Gabe Bast and Grant Mismash. This deluge of scoring included three third period goals to ice the game and that provided the final 5-0 margin

Bowen benefited from the strong play of Jasper Weatherby who keyed his line. Again Weatherby’s faceoff performance (13-4) proved important on the evening. He and Pinto drove the success up front by combining to win 27 of UND’s 37 faceoff wins.

Over time look for Weatherby’s line to see more ice time as the coaches see his ability to continue sucess in the faceoff dot, a welcome supplement to the strong physical game that he plays.

Adam Scheel finished the evening in net for the Fighting Hawks with an 11 save shutout, and outside of a nice barrage from Canisius in the first few minutes of the third period, did not face a lot of chances on the evening.

Beyond the Box Score 

For UND: Don’t Overreact 

This team played a solid third period that saw their three goals put the game out of reach for Canisius. The Fighting Hawks tonight were the better team and all of the normal metrics from shot attempts, to goals and possession time bore that fact out. With that being said, we saw something similar to the formula other teams used to beat this Fighting Hawks side last year.

When Canisius was at their best, they were almost allowing low percentage shots and cleaning up in front of the net as needed. They got some key saves from Matt Ladd and his replacement, Jacob Barczewski who both used their lateral quickness to stymie a lot of backdoor looks where it seemed that UND was telegraphing where they would shoot.

Canisius Head Coach Trevor Large did not commit to which goalie we would see in net tomorrow, but the Griffins goalies, despite the top line score showed that when the defense cleaned up the loose change in front of the net, that for the most part they could hang with this stacked Fighting Hawks side.

Why am I not screaming praises of this Fighting Hawks team? Well simply put, I believe seeing more from this team is needed. I am not sure what to expect out of this team. When you earn a five minute major and get the other team’s captain ejected you need to convert on that power play throughout the season.

Despite nearly four minutes of zone time UND did not do so.  In addition, while I was impressed with the consistent all out pressure of this team, regardless of the result Saturday, their next opponent in the Mavericks of Minnesota State Mankato will present an entirely different test.

This win for UND is cathartic after the sweep they endured last January where a lot of those following this team saw as the low point for the 2018-2019 side. It was like that because UND could not convert rebounds. The Fighting Hawks did that tonight against a high effort Canisius side and took the drama out of the game early in the third period. What happens tomorrow, and further on in the season will prove much more to the long-term success or failure than 60 minutes against a team that had not even played an exhibition against another team before this one. Now that Large and his staff have game tape to dissect, what changes will they make and how will UND Head Coach Brad Berry react?

For Canisius: Short and Sweet 

If you are reading this and a Canisius fan, thank you for reading this far first off. I was impressed with the ability of this team deprived of one of the best offensive players in the country last year and called “instant offense” to hang around against a superb UND side. The Griffins showed that they can hang in for two periods and execute a game plan to keep the game at least close against a team replete with NHL-caliber talent.

Large noted after the game that the one reason why Canisius had some success later on in this one in finding better chances was the passing game. When the Golden Griffins kept their passes a little shorter, they did not give UND as much of a chance to limit their ability to get to higher percentage areas. The Griffins effort on defense reminded me a bit of the effort shown by AIC against St. Cloud State last March in Fargo. The difference between the two was offense. Last March, AIC did what Large wants his team to do tomorrow which include keeping the passes short and focusing on quality over going for stretch passes like Canisius did tonight. Doing that while limiting penalties and focusing on your effort and ability to block shots could keep this game closer than the highly partisan crowd at the Ralph Engelstad Arena would like.

 

UND Hockey: Unpacking a 5-1 Exhibition Win

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Tonight, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey team earned a 5-1 exhibition win over the Bisons of Manitoba. This game did not require overtime like last year’s version, and there were some marked improvements for this team to keep an eye on going forward.

To open up the scoring, UND took advantage of a five-on-three power play.  San Jose Sharks’ prospect Jasper Weatherby provided a wonderful screen of Bisons goalie Riley Lamb leaving home no time or space to see a wired home shot from Ottawa Senators’ prospect Jacob Bernard Docker.

Weatherby did not make the score sheet tonight but was singled out by UND Head Coach Brad Berry for his net-front presence and his prowess taking faceoffs. This is something to keep an eye on as he won 11 of the 15 draws he took. Only Weatherby and another Senators prospect, freshman Shane Pinto won double digit draws (both won 11) with the next best Fighting Hawk winning four (Westin Michaud).

Grant Mismash was the star of this game. The Predators’ prospect finished with four assists and helped establish UND’s offense for the evening. His precision passing provided primary assists on the first four goals for the Fighting Hawks. If Mismash can add this passing element to his game this season to complement the heavy shot he brings and ability to play in all three zones consistently, then we could see a lot more out of him this year.

In net, the line chart read Adam Scheel, Harrison Feeney, and Peter Thome in that order, but Berry cautioned people to not read anything into the order in which the goalies played. All had some highlights with the only real down moment coming on a late-stage power play goal from Colton Veloso against Adam Scheel.

Veloso picked one side of the net, and Scheel looked the other way. Other than that, with limited chances, Scheel, Feeney, and Thome all looked solid. Scheel finished with two saves on three shots, Feeney finished with four saves on four shots faced and saved a penalty shot as well, and Thome finished with six saves on the evening rounding out the evening.

Each goalie played a full period. As to who starts and earns the backup role, that is still to be decided. I would not look at the order that the goalies played in as indicative of anything other than wanting to give each goalie an equal sample on which to be evaluated.

What does all of this mean? Well going forward, what stood out to me most was where UND earned its chances. The vast majority of UND’s 49 shots on net came from the higher percentage area, not a common theme last season. When UND gets to the slot area, with the skill on this team, combined with their ability to screen the goalie, good things can happen for this team.

They have an opportunity next week to make up for their season defining sweep at the hands of the Canisius Golden Griffins in Buffalo last season. What happens next weekend at the Ralph Engelstad Arena will be determined in a large part by how well this team can earn the slot and get rebounds, if they replicate their effort from tonight, the season could start quite well.

UND Soccer: What a game

(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.

Zips race past UND Volleyball to clinch UND Classic Title 3-0

Tonight, the University of North Dakota Volleyball team faced one of their toughest opponents of the season. Slow starts in sets one and three, and a resilient Akron Zips side in set two did in the Fighting Hawks at home and secured the UND Classic Title for the Akron Zips (25-14, 25-23, 25-15).

The Zips won by playing consistently physical volleyball, relying on strong attacks, and capitalizing on unforced errors to keep UND hitting out of its system tonight. When the Fighting Hawks kept it closest was when their blockers, lead by Lexi Ahrens in the second set, were able to hang with the Zips. Every time UND got close, minus the tie at 23 in the second set tonight, an error at the service line or the Zips would push the margin right back out again.

With all of that being said, there were some positives on the weekend for these Fighting Hawks.  Coach Jeremiah Tiffin was happy that the team got some bench contributions on the weekend from players like Sara Antic among others who picked up their team, especially against Eastern Washington, when needed.

Going forward, one thing is clear after the non-conference slate of this season being done. This team will rise or fall based on its starts. Keep an eye on who gets to five first and what the margin is. If UND can stay in front of that margin and force teams to play perfect volleyball, they will win a few more games than expected and have results more mirroring the pacing of set five against Eastern Washington.

When that does not happen, the results will largely replicate sets one and three from tonight where they have to answer back against a tough Summit League schedule.

UND now heads on the road to take on a very good Omaha team with some quality non conference wins, and South Dakota after that before returning home October 4 to take on Western Illinois.

UND Soccer: Why you should be watching

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons- UND Athletics)

Tonight, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Soccer team struck first against a team featuring an All American, Boise State, on an early tally before the Broncos came back to win.

Think about that sentence, why am I including a detail about a loss to a really good Mountain West team on the road?

Well, Chris Logan has built this team up so much to where competing with anyone regardless of conference or talent level is now possible. The Fighting Hawks played a determined game today and now have more things to build on heading into their non conference finale on Sunday against Idaho.

Let’s go back to the Fighting Hawks’ last win. It was a 2-0 defensive affair over Grand Canyon University where the speed of the Fighting Hawks shined in the desert as said speed opened up set pieces and drew a penalty kick to provide the final tally. In that game, one of the best goalies in UND history, Catherine Klein saved a penalty kick 65 minutes in that would have tied things up. She did so despite an interesting choice of fouls to call. Her prowess on the goal line for this team leaves a legacy other goalies will have a lot to do to match in the Summit League for future iterations of this team.

In that game, and the one before it, against Minot State, we saw the speed of this team, a constant all year, shine through. Although not scoring against Grand Canyon, one of the fastest forwards to suit up for UND in their history, Mimi Eiden, tracked back to block shots and make life tough for the Lopes of Grand Canyon while using her speed to push the pace up front. Eiden is one of many stars on a team full of talent. Every time she is on the pitch, be it reporter, fan, or defense, you have to keep an eye on what she does because she is liable to run down half the pitch or more and score any time she gets a good pass. She will cause a problem for the defenses Summit League this year because of her speed and this team’s depth in making the other team adjust to them as a whole.

Speaking of depth, this team has multiple freshman already doing great things. One that has stood out already is Bailey McNitt. She is not only fast like Eiden, but technically Coach Logan and the staff have beamed about her skill and potential. How often can you sub off a star like Eiden and end up getting the winner off that decision?

Well it happened this year. Against the Gaels of St. Mary’s College, McNitt came on for Eiden in double overtime and laced a superb corner into the box that found the back of the net off Meghan Wilson. Every game she is earning the conference of this coaching staff more and more, and like the rest of this talented freshman class look to have an impact in Grand Forks for years to come.

On October 4th and the rest of this season, when this team is home, I humbly ask you, the fans, to come and watch this team. Attendance has been great so far and the atmosphere wonderful at the freshly renovated Bronson Field, but it can always be greater. This team could be on the cusp of their first top four finish this season if their depth and speed can continue to manifest itself in conference play against a talented slew of Summit League sides. When this team is on the road, watch the streams of games when you can, most are either free or really cheap on ESPN Plus (five bucks a month) or some other platform for not much more.

These Fighting Hawks have been in every game they have played. Their only two loses have come on the road to the Citadel, a superb Southern Conference side, and Boise State, a Mountain West side that should challenge for an at-large bid this year.

With all of that being said, this team is worthy of your time and attention. They finish their non-conference slate on the road Sunday at 4 PM against Idaho on the road. Watch the game for free on Pluto TV. Then come out and support arguably the best all around team North Dakota has seen in their time in Division One October 4th against South Dakota at home to open up Summit League play. This team deserves the full attention of a community that already has a lot of supporters, I am asking everyone to join UND’s eventual ascent of the Summit League. They are fun to watch and cover for this site, oh and fans in case you did not know it is free to watch them! Come out to Bronson Field on October 4th to check out this team in action at 3 PM, you will not regret it.

 

Defense and flashes of brilliance mark UND Volleyball five set win over Eastern Washington

(Photo Credit: Russell Hons-UND Athletics )

Tonight, in front of a decent crowd at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, we saw an incomplete picture of how good the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks’ Volleyball team can be this year in front of an electric 888 patrons. They put together a strong effort on defense in a five set (3-2) win against the Eagles of Eastern Washington that featured five players reaching double digit digs lead by McKenzie Damon with 20.

This now 8-5 team had some success up front as well. Lydia Rutten did a superb job of staying within the system of first year head coach Jeremiah Tiffin among others. She lead the offense and was the difference up front. On the night she notched 18 kills on 33 swings with a mere 3 errors, good for a .455 hitting percentage. In a sport where hitting above .300 is considered really good, it is fair to say she was great this night for the Fighting Hawks. She gave credit to the consistent play of her setters and defense in giving her a chance to be that efficient. Peyton Sewell finished the night with 42 assists, spearheading the bulk of distribution for UND on this night.

In addition to the exploits of Rutten, the sole senior on this squad, Ashley Brueggeman notched her 1000th career kill en route to 11 on the evening as part of a double double. Only 18 people in UND Volleyball history, including Ashley have accomplished this rare and momentous feat. On defense she chipped in 11 digs. She played the back row on multiple rotations and showcased the versatility fans in Grand Forks are used to seeing her utilize on a game-by-game basis.

As a team,these Fighting Hawks have not shown their best for a full game yet. They already have had some harrowing moments, including a five set win against Marist, where the Fighting Hawks had to rattle off three set wins in a row after losing the first two sets, including the second set by 18 points (25-7).

This team showed something tonight. When they start well, like they did in the second, fourth, and fifth sets, they get into their offense, and as Tiffin noted, can play more aggressively and afford to take an error when on the attack or a “good error”. When this team starts well, they can make games interesting in the Summit League. Now, they have one more tune up against a good team from the MAC, Akron.

The Zips are one of the bigger teams UND will see this season, and play a versatile game where their setters will join the attack as needed, presenting another wrinkle to account for tomorrow night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Come 7:30 PM tomorrow night, we will get the final picture of what this team looks like heading into a tough Summit League schedule the following week.