MINNEAPOLIS – The University of North Dakota soccer team took on the University of Minnesota in an exhibition match Friday night, but fell to the Gophers, 3-0, at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
With 11 new faces on the roster for the new season, the friendly against Minnesota was a good first tune-up before the regular season begins.
“We figured out how to play, what the level of college soccer is,” head coach Matt Kellogg said after the game. “We had a lot of freshman on the field at anyone given time, especially in the second half, and it was encouraging to see them battle. They were starting to fight back, they weren’t getting run off the ball and they were actually starting to run some of the Minnesota players off.”
The 2013 Big Sky Conference saves leader in senior goalkeeper Kristi Hestdalen made eight saves in 81 minutes of action. Freshman keeper, Maia Lundstrom played the final nine minutes of the contest needing to make just one save.
A total of 19 players saw action for North Dakota, including nine of the 11 freshmen. Zoe Berlinquette and Sabrina Majerczyk both saw time in the midfield and Aaliyah Danielson and Austin Overson both saw action up top as forwards. Lexie Andres and Tracy Mather entered into the game as outside backs, playing with Smithson and McDowell.
As the game progressed, the young UND team began to get its preseason jitters out and settle into more of a rhythm.
Early on, Minnesota capitalized of the home-field advantage, scoring in the 14th and 33rd minutes. In the second half, as UND began to become more defensively organized, Minnesota took more less-opportune chances and only scored one goal in the 71st minute, to finalize the 3-0 win. Minnesota attempted a total of 29 shots, with 12 being on target.
“Hats off to Minnesota, they played great and they’re going to have a great season,” Kellogg said. “But for us going forward, we need to remember what that last 15-20 minutes looked like and we have to take that into every game. We can’t let the moment be bigger than us, and I think that’s what happened tonight, especially in the first half.”
“When we’re disciplined and we’re executing, like we work on in training, we create chances,” Kellogg added. “When we’re organized defensively, sticking to our game plan, we minimized Minnesota’s chances. I think the lesson from this game is that we just have to play disciplined soccer. If we can do that and stick to what we train, we’re going to be fine going into the regular season and, especially, conference play.”
North Dakota returns home for its final preseason tune-up, hosting Viterbo on Monday at 11 a.m. The regular season begins for UND on Friday, Aug. 22, with a road game against North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D., at 7 p.m.