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Courtesy: Eric Classen, UNDsports.com
Portland State went 4-1-2 in conference play in 2011 and was a co-regular season champion.
UND opens Big Sky play
Courtesy: Derek Koenen, UND Athletic Media Relations
Release: 09/20/2012
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GAMES: The UND soccer team kicks off Big Sky play with a pair of home conference games this weekend. The first, against Sacramento State, has a start time of 4 p.m. on Friday. UND will then take on Portland State at 11 a.m. on Sunday to round off the weekend. Both games take place on UND's Bronson Field.

HORNETS:  Sacramento state is led by head coach Randy Dedini, who is in his sixth season with the Hornets. They enter the weekend with a 2-4-2 record. The Hornets have scored ten goals on the season, with seven of them coming in the second half of games. Elece McBride leads the team in points (seven) and goals (three), while Victoria Ramirez closely follows with five points and two goals. Goalkeepers Shelby Tomasello and Kimberly Mata have each started four games in the net. Together, they have compiled a goals against average of 1.63.

VIKINGS:  Led by fourth-year head coach Laura Schott, Portland State enters this weekend with a 2-5-1 record. The Vikings have scored five goals on the season, with two of them coming from Daniela Solis, who leads the team in both points (four) and goals. Second in these rankings is Megan Martin, with three points and one goal. Goalkeeper Lainey Hulsizer has started all eight games for the Vikings, and has tallied a goals against average of 1.22. Portland State will start off the weekend with a Big Sky Conference road game against Northern Colorado before making the venture to Grand Forks for Sunday's matchup.

THIS WEEK IN THE BSC: Conference play opens Friday with five games, including a showdown between the two teams who are at the top of the standings - Idaho State and Montana. Montana is the reigning BSC tournament champion.

Also on Friday, the 2011 co-regular season champions, Northern Colorado and Portland State are in action.

Eight teams are back in action on Sunday, including a rematch between the championship finalists Weber State and Montana.

A NEW HOME: The 2012 season marks the first year in North Dakota's new home of the Big Sky Conference and its first NCAA postseason-eligible campaign.

A CHANCE AT THE BIG DANCE: Only the top four teams in the Big Sky standings advance to the conference tournament to battle for the leagues automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

HOME COOKING: North Dakota is concluding a long home stretch including five straight and 5-of-6 games at Bronson Field during September.

PROGRAM (AND UNIVERSITY) FIRST: Sophomore forward Megan Anderson was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week (Aug. 26) becoming the first player in program history and at North Dakota to win a BSC weekly award.

The Rapid City, S.D., native, scored one goal and had three assists to finish the weekend with five points helping UND to a 4-0 win over Minnesota, Crookston and a a 4-4 (2 OT) tie against South Dakota.

ALL-BIG SKY: Rhaya Ballon was named to the Madness 2012 Big Sky Preseason All-Conference Second Team as selected by its staff in expectation of these players making significant contributions to their team in the upcoming season.

A Rogers, Minn., native, Ballon led UND with nine goals in 2011 and finished second in points with 19 while starting all 18 games. She scored at least one point in 10 of 18 games.

In her three seasons at North Dakota, Ballon has totaled 16 goals and six assists for 38 points.

TEAM CONTRIBUTIONS: Through seven games in the 2012 campaign, the UND soccer team has recorded nine goals with seven different goal scorers.

BLANKED: Sophomore Kristi Hestdalen collected her first shutout of 2012 and fifth of her young career against Minnesota, Crookston in a 4-0 win at Bronson Field.

PREVIOUS ACTION: UND dropped a 3-1 decision to Western Illinois on Sunday with its lone goal coming from Amanda Dahl.

FUTURE SCHEDULE: North Dakota returns to for the first time in conference play and first road trip since a nonconference match with South Dakota on Aug. 26.

New Jersey native Jawon Johnson will get to play close to home in Thursday's season opener at Stony Brook.
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