Head coach Greg Cane wasn’t kidding when he said the plan this year was to push the pace and keep pressing forward. The UMD soccer team began NSIC competition with a road test against St. Cloud State Sunday and handed the Huskies their first loss of the season with the help of a high-octane offense that scored four times.
Dani Potter found the back of the net three times for her first career hat trick and junior Maureen Stormont logged the other goal.
“This year we really needed a quick head-start,” said Potter, who earned NSIC Player of the Week honors after the offensive outburst. “It really is a confidence booster for the rest of the season.”
Last year, the Bulldogs lost to the Huskies in the NSIC opener and spiraled into a three-game winless streak to start league play.
“We didn’t realize how important it was until last year,” Potter said. “It’s such an important starting point for ourselves to be ahead instead of chasing in the conference.”
UMD possessed the ball often and gained a 12-6 shot advantage in the first half. After registering six shots in the first 22 minutes of play, including four 3:33 apart, Potter finally put one in the back of the net in the 25th minute.
Eight and a half minutes later, Stormont, Potter’s counterpart, rifled one past the screened Husky goalkeeper to give the Bulldogs a two-goal advantage.
St. Cloud State midfielder Kara Dahmen chopped the lead in half in the 51st minute, but the Bulldogs reclaimed the two-goal lead a few minutes later on Potter’s second goal.
UMD senior midfielder Sally Stromme found a wide-open Stormont in the middle of the defense. Stormont then delivered the ball to Potter, who split a pair of defenders and hit the right side of the net.
“We look at the game in five-minute intervals and try to win those battles,” Stromme said. “We knew once we gave up the goal that we would need to use the next five to get it back.”
Potter added an insurance goal—her fourth of the season and the final piece of the hat trick—in the 65th minute to cap a 4-1 win.
UMD (2-1, 1-0 NSIC) resumes play at Malosky Stadium this weekend with matches against Upper Iowa and Winona State, which finished 2012 third and second in the conference, respectively.
“We want to come out strong and take some points against two very competitive teams in our conference,” Stromme said. “In my four years we haven’t been able beat Winona, and we hope to change that.”
BY EVAN SMEGAL email@example.com -- PHOTO SUBMITTED BY TOM NELSON