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Hawks come up just short in quest for Big Sky soccer tournament

Regardless of what happened later in the day, UND players left Bronson Field on Friday satisfied. They were satisfied in knowing that their 2017 season was a lot better than last year's two-win campaign. And this season may serve as a springboard...

UND's Emily Smithson controls the ball as Northern Colorado's Kaitlyn Meeder defends during their match Friday at UND. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND's Emily Smithson controls the ball as Northern Colorado's Kaitlyn Meeder defends during their match Friday at UND. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Regardless of what happened later in the day, UND players left Bronson Field on Friday satisfied.

They were satisfied in knowing that their 2017 season was a lot better than last year's two-win campaign. And this season may serve as a springboard to better years ahead.

UND and Northern Colorado battled to a 0-0 double-overtime tie on a cold, windy day in the Big Sky Conference regular-season finale. A win would have qualified UND for next week's league postseason tournament as the top six teams in the regular season will compete for a conference championship.

Instead, UND finished 4-5-1 (13 points) in Big Sky play and lost tiebreaking scenarios later in the day to Northern Arizona (4-5-1) and Sacramento State (3-3-4). Both Sacramento State and Northern Arizona took wins over UND this season.

Temperature at game time was 30 degrees with a stiff wind out of the north. That didn't make for ideal playing conditions.

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"It's a North Dakota day," said UND coach Chris Logan.

The Fighting Hawks waited nearly six hours to learn their postseason fate. Had either Sacramento State or Northern Arizona won, UND would have reached next week's tournament. Instead, Sac State and Northern Arizona tied 1-1.

That still didn't dampen UND's season, said Logan.

"I'm so proud of everything they've done this year," said Logan. "It doesn't matter what happens over the course of the next few hours; we feel like this has been a very successful year for the program. We couldn't be prouder of the heart and desire the ladies have shown all year. The steps we've taken forward this year have been way beyond our wildest imagination."

UND goalie Catherine Klein led the Hawks as she tied the school record with 18 saves. The sophomore from Colorado Springs, Colo., came big in the first half by stopping a penalty kick from Brooke Braden.

Klein's status earlier in the week was up in the air as she was battling an injury.

"Today she was out of this world," said Klein. "It's just incredible how good she is. Some of the saves she made were lights out. We're so proud of her for fighting through a bit of adversity this week. She's got a lot of grit and she's got a big heart and she got in there and played her part for her teammates."

UNC outshot UND 29-19 and had an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.

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For Klein, it was her sixth shutout of the season.

"Even if we don't make (the tournament), it's been an amazing year," said Klein. "Our seniors have done so much for our program."

Overall, UND finished 6-8-4. UNC (5-3-2 and 11-6-2) will be the No. 3 seed in next week's tournament at Eastern Washington.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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