The NSIC has been a tough conference thus far in 2013—six teams are separated by a margin of six points (two games) or less. UMD was able to hold steady, three points out of first place, after a sweep at Malosky Stadium over the weekend. An eight-goal eruption, which featured a 5-0 dismantling of Wayne State and a 3-2 overtime thriller against Augustana, pushed the Bulldogs (7-2, 6-1 NSIC) into a tie for third place in the conference with Upper Iowa, a team UMD has already beaten.
“We always feel comfortable at home and play our best here,” said junior Jennifer Smith, who scored five points on the weekend. “We want to make the most out of our home games and defend our turf.”
The Bulldogs manhandled the Wildcats for the full 90 minutes on Friday. UMD was relentless all night, outshooting Wayne State 36-6.
Smith, who recently adjusted to a new role after being switched to outside midfielder this year, played a key role in the first half, assisting on goals by Dani Potter and Maureen Stormont before finding the back of the net herself. Wayne State went into the half trailing 3-0 and failed to record a shot for the first 56 minutes.
“We didn’t play well against Southwest Minnesota State, especially in the second half,” Smith said. “We looked at what didn’t work and made some adjustments in practice to fix it. That loss helped fuel us to turn it around, make those improvements and play with more fire, so once the playoffs start, we will be at the top of our game.”
The Bulldogs still weren’t done scoring on the Wildcats. Smith assisted on Marissa Ganske’s goal in the 49th minute to complete a five-point night. Freshman Kailey Beatt added the final goal — the first of her collegiate career. UMD had a more challenging test Sunday against Augustana, which entered with the same league as the Bulldogs.
Potter scored another goal to open the scoring, but the Bulldogs saw that advantage disappear. Five minutes after Potter’s goal, UMD found itself behind when Augustana’s Maren Werth scored on back-to-back shots. Maureen Stormont knocked in the game-tying goal with 12:01 left in the first half.
The intensity built in the second half. Both teams had excellent opportunities to score, but UMD’s Marissa Rosa and Viking goalkeeper Ashley Limmer worked to preserve the tie.
Werth had a shot pushed aside by Rosa, and Katie Hurd hit the post after a rebound. For the Bulldog offense, Hannah Keil had a shot deflected over the crossbar and Sally Stromme, with seconds remaining in the half, was turned away by the reaching grasp of Limmer.
It didn’t take long to decide the winner in overtime. Smith won a 50-50 ball and passed it off to Stormont, who did the rest. Stormont notched her ninth goal of the season just 30 seconds into the extra session.
“It was a great weekend for us and for me,” Smith said. “Now we have to bring that mentality we have with us on the road for the next four games.”
UMD begins a two-week road trip Saturday in North Dakota at Minot State.
BY EVAN SMEGAL email@example.com