GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota soccer coach Chris Logan knows full well the importance of Big Sky Conference victories and cares nothing for style points, especially with the non-conference schedule now in the rearview mirror.
Logan’s Fighting Hawks grinded their way to a 2-0 win over visiting Idaho State on Friday afternoon at Bronson Field, the league opener for both teams.
Katie Moller scored twice in the opening 10 minutes and goalkeeper Catherine Klein registered a 6-save shutout, delivering a conference victory that, while not necessarily pretty to look at in the box score, already matches the program’s number of Big Sky wins all of last season.
“That was the biggest thing we talked to the team about before the game,” said Logan. “Regardless of the performance, if the result is good that’s what it’s all about at this time of year.”
The result was all that mattered to the Fighting Hawks, who went 1-9 in conference play in 2016. UND’s scoring leader on that team was forward Katie Moller with three goals in 18 games. Now a junior, Moller has already doubled that total through nine games, scoring her fifth and sixth goals of the season today.
Her first came on a penalty kick in the opening minute. She found the net again at the 10-minute mark, taking advantage of a fortunate ricochet on a loose ball in the box and bouncing one past ISU goalkeeper Shawna Hennings.
It gave Moller four goals in her last three games.
“I guess she’s okay sometimes,” said Logan with a smile as wide as a soccer net. “She’s just such a threat and right now she’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Continued Logan: “What’s really going well for us right now is at the start of the year it felt like Katie was having to do a lot of it herself. Now we have other people stepping up and being able to give us some service and help her out. As long as more people start chipping in, we’re going to be dangerous.”
North Dakota was tested physically like had hadn’t been in non-conference play, and the Bengals carried much of the possession after Moller’s two-goal outburst. Goalkeeper Klein was her steady self when needed in her fourth career shutout, but Logan reserved plenty of praise for his team’s defensive effort.
To wit, ISU attempted 25 shots for the game (including 17 in the second half) but managed to put only six of those on goal.
“[Klein] was well-protected, she just had to be good on a couple of crosses,” said Logan. “The back line were phenomenal. I mean, Emma Contino and Meghan McCabe are fantastic. Really proud of the way our back line did today. They were just awesome at not giving up chances.
“It comes down to battling and competing in these conference games and we came out and certainly did that.”
Moller said she and her teammates were prepared for a battle and responded by getting their first lead since an Aug. 20 win over Western Illinois.
“It was definitely a little bit more physical than we have faced, but that’s what you’re going to get in conference play. That intensity has been raised,” said Moller. “All the lessons we’ve learned of how to attack over our non-conference games, it’s time to put those in. I think that really showed today.”
UND will host Weber State on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Bronson Field.
Notes: Moller had nine of UND’s 10 shot attempts in the game and all five of the team’s shots on goal. Her six goals are the most by a UND player since Rhaya Ballon scored nine in 2011 … Kennedy Kidd assisted on Moller’s second goal.