After going winless in its first year of the Big Sky Conference, Kellogg began to right the ship during the program's second tour of conference action. UND won its first Big Sky Conference match, downing Eastern Washington 3-1 on Oct. 13. The team also doubled its goals scored in conference play, and its conference goals allowed also reduced drastically, from 29 in 2012 to 18 in 2013.
Now Kellogg is tasked with continuing to plant the seeds of success and to build off the foundation that was put into place last year. With an incoming class made up 11 freshmen, Kellogg is looking to do just that.
"We had a very good spring season with the returners," Kellogg said. "There was a lot of player development and I think they're starting to see the game at a higher level. It's going to be a very exciting time this fall introducing these new pieces into that returning group, which has taken quite a few large steps in my time here."
"Our strength coach, Aaron Schwenzfeier, has done a tremendous job working with the returners to get them more athletic and it's shown in the numbers; times have gotten quicker in all the testing that we've done. So not only are we bringing fast and athletic kids in with the freshman class, we're developing them once they get here."
A key to UND's success this season will start in net with the return of Big Sky Conference saves leader senior Kristi Hestdalen. During last year's campaign, Hestdalen played every minute of all 19 games, making a total of 131 saves, setting a single-season record at UND, while also breaking the career saves record at UND with 332.
Kellogg brings in freshman Maia Lundstrom from White Bear Lake, Minn. He believes Lundstrom can compete for playing time this season and, with the mentorship of Hestdalen, can help lead the program to future success.
"My mentality is that we never head into fall camp with a starting goalkeeper job already handed out, but Kristi is a veteran player who has seen a lot of minutes and more shots than she's needed to in her first three years here, which we're hoping to tone back this season. Looking at it this season, whether it's Kristi or Maia in net, we will be in a position to win games. Looking at the longevity of the program, it's going to be great to have Kristi bring Maia along this year, and have Maia learn from one of the best goalies this program has had in Kristi."
Sophomore Kirsten Olson and junior Abbey Welle lead the UND defense for the 2014 season. Junior captain Asia Laudal will redshirt the season after being sidelined by a preseason injury. Olson made the switch to defense after beginning her career at forward, but was a natural fit and helped lead the UND back line as a redshirt freshman. Welle was third on the team in minutes played last season, starting in all but one game.
Coming into UND in 2013, Kellogg anticipated needing new defenders for the 2014 season and he brings in a core group of four freshmen to help fill in the missing pieces on the back line. Lexie Andres, Natalie Johnson, Tracy Mather, and Emily Smithson will all compete for time as starting defenders. Additionally, freshmen Liz McDowell and Aaliyah Danielson may also see time in a defensive role.
"We're going to be teaching a lot with that back group, but a large part of our freshman class was brought in to bolster the defense. We knew we were going to be playing a lot of young players on defense this year from the beginning, so it's not a surprise to us, and I think they will be able to do just that. We have some really smart players who can catch on quickly to what we're trying to do and will add depth to the back line," said Kellogg.
Senior captain Juliette Austin and junior captain Caitlin Dahl return to anchor UND's midfield in 2014. Both Dahl and Austin played in all 19 games last season, with Dahl playing more of an attacking-mid position and Austin in a holding-mid role. Sophomore Michelle Stingle also played in all 19 games for UND last season and led the group with two goals. Additionally, Jessica Johnson returns in the midfield after redshirting last season.
"The strategy for the midfield this year will be to simplify the game for us. They're a very integral part in the system that we're going to be playing this year, and because we know it’s a young group, we're going to keep it very simple. I don't want them to overthink things, and for them to realize that they can't win the game in one pass," said Kellogg.
UND returns three up top in juniors Andrea Hyduke, Marissa Ricci and sophomore Zoe Foster. After limited playing time their freshman seasons, Hyduke and Ricci played major roles last season as sophomores and combined for three goals and one assist. Foster stepped in as a true freshman last season and led the team in scoring with four goals and one assist. The continued potency of the trio will play a large part of UND success this season.
"The group was young last year, not just in years, but in experience. However, that's not to say that the talent is not there. The potential to score a lot of goals this year is there. We doubled our goals from 2012 to 2013 and we're looking to do the same this year. If we can do that, then we'll put ourselves in a great spot to compete for a championship," said Kellogg.
With the addition of Idaho to the Big Sky, the conference schedule looks to be even more grueling, but UND landed a favorable draw with five straight home matches in the middle of October.
"We'll be on the road a little bit and then we come home for a nice stand, which is beneficial because that's also the time when the studies start to pile up. It's right around the first midterms and the student-athletes are starting to get a dose reality with their academics."
Because the Big Sky Conference field grew to 11 with the addition of the Vandals, the top six teams will now make the postseason tournament, which will be held Nov. 6-7 & 9 at the campus of the regular-season champion.
The nonconference portion of the schedule features the likes of regional rivals, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. UND also takes on 2013 Big Ten champs Nebraska, Creighton, Green Bay and travels to Chicago State for the Cougars' first home game in their inaugural season. UND opens the 2014 season with a road game against in-state rival North Dakota State on Aug. 22.