Defenders rise to challenge for UND soccer
Chris Logan's biggest concern about the UND soccer team entering this season was its ability to defend.
That's because the UND soccer coach said he will put as many as nine forwards or converted forwards on the field at the same time.
But Logan's team may be putting his mind at ease.
UND was excellent defensively in a 0-0 tie Friday afternoon against the University Montana, an NCAA-tournament team a year ago, in the regular-season opener at Bronson Field.
The Grizzlies managed just five shots on goal -- all of which were easily corralled by senior goalkeeper Catherine Klein, who was making her first regular-season appearance in two years.
"Cat didn't have to make a good save, you know?" Logan said. "She had to be solid, but that was about all. I think, defensively, we were excellent.
"Sarah Doran and Hannah Olson were incredible. I thought Olivia Knox and Carly Sandoval were spectacular defensively as well."
Doran and Olson are both forwards who were converted to defenders. Knox is a forward who was converted to a midfielder.
The strong defensive play continued a trend that was set in two preseason exhibitions against the University of Manitoba and Viterbo. The Fighting Hawks allowed just one goal in those two exhibitions.
Klein made her first regular-season appearance since Oct. 27, 2017, when she posted a 0-0 shutout against Northern Colorado. She missed all of last season with a concussion.
"We defended lights out," Klein said. "I am so proud of our back line and our midfielders. Anybody who was in that box, we crushed."
Logan said: "She didn't have to make many saves today, but she organizes so well. Her distribution was really good. Her presence in the box and communication, making sure everybody in front of her is organized. . . she did a phenomenal job. We didn't really concede any chances against a very good team."
The Fighting Hawks had the best scoring chance of the game. In the second half, forward Mimi Eiden slipped past the defense and tapped the ball around Montana goalkeeper Claire Howard, who sprinted out of the box to try to break up the breakaway. But with a Grizzlies defender closing in, Eiden pushed the ball just wide of the open net.
"You give her two of those chances, she's not going to miss again," Logan said. "We had chances today. We really did. The thing I'm most disappointed about was that we didn't win that game."
UND tied Montana 0-0 last season, too, but Logan thought this one was different.
"We tied Montana last year, but we were really hanging on," Logan said. "Today, we were devastated that we didn't win the game. I think that's really a shift. We've come up against an NCAA tournament team with a lot of seasoned veterans. We should have come out with a multi-goal victory. So that's the progression we've seen now."
UND hosts Saint Mary's (Calif.) at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in its next action.
"It was a great game of soccer between two very good teams," Logan said. "It was a phenomenal event. I really enjoyed it.
"Our ladies showed today that our attacking style is so much more expensive than it has been in the past. We have so many different pieces that can play good soccer. It was fun to watch them."