Every team has its ups and downs, and the University of Minnesota Duluth soccer team is currently living it. The past weekend the Bulldogs (4-5-2) started their longest home stand of the year. They are in the middle of a four-game stretch that will conclude this weekend. Despite two well-played games, the Bulldogs split the first pair of games.
“(This weekend) has really showed the two sides of our team so far this year,” said sophomore Maureen Stormont. “It was a good representation of how we played the entire year. Every team has dry spells. Ours took a little longer to get out.”
UMD put a stranglehold on the University of Mary on Saturday afternoon and won 2-0. But the score doesn’t tell the whole story. The Bulldogs controlled the game from the very start of the match.
“We played our best game of the season,” said goalkeeper Marissa Rosa. “We were moving the ball well and kept Mary on their heels. We did an excellent job of keeping them on their side of the field and limiting their opportunities.”
And it showed in the box score. The Bulldogs outshot Mary 24-4 and had twice as many corner kick opportunities.
It wasn’t until the 44th minute when the Bulldogs finally broke the tie game.
Dani Potter stuffed the back of the net off of a blocked shot from Abby Serreyn that rebounded to her. Potter put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0 right before the half. But Potter wasn’t done.
Potter capitalized on a penalty kick later in the 75th minute. She froze the keeper and calmly tapped it past the right side of the post to put the Bulldogs up 2-0.
But with as much as success they had Saturday, Sunday was much different.
UMD lost a tough 1-0 match against Minot State. Although UMD limited Minot State in the second half, outshooting the Beavers 15-4, the damage had been done in the first half.
Minot’s Lexi Kidd scored the lone goal of the game in the 45th minute, a mere 30 seconds before halftime.
“I think we played just as well as we did in the win versus Mary,” said Rosa. “We just weren’t connecting with the net.”
Jennifer Smith and three other Bulldogs put two shots on net but failed to get it past the Beaver keeper.
“We just couldn’t find the back of the net,” said midfielder Jennifer Smith. “Their keeper played well and we put the pressure on all game. We played our game but it didn’t work out, but now we have to get ready for next weekend.”
The Bulldogs are currently in ninth place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings, one spot and one point behind in the playoff race.
“If you look at last year to this year it’s kind of similar,” said Stormont. “I would say our struggles this year were a little more prolonged, but our coaches have put us in a positive mindset.” Last year the Bulldogs started 1-4-1 before rocketing to an 11-6-1 finish and third place in the NSIC.
Their next two opponents this weekend are Minnesota State-Mankato and Concordia-St. Paul. Both are ahead of Minnesota Duluth in the standings. After the home stand the Bulldogs have four games left and only one of those at home. Time is ticking for the Bulldogs.
“Because of how we are playing and how other teams are playing in front of us, we need two wins,” said Smith. “I think we can do that. We know how good Mankato is but we played them very hard last year.”
BY EVAN SMEGAL firstname.lastname@example.org