Author: Mark Privratsky
(Photo Credit: WSU Athletics)
If you've ever dreamed of non conference trips to the dust bowl states or visits from Northern Michigan, then the NSIC non conference slate is just for you! This is the time of year when we get to see unique matchups, potential for big statement wins against ranked opponents or D1 schools, and we start to see who will stand out this season. Mankato and Bemidji faced early challenges against big opponents, Ashley Hewitt stood out for Winona, some early success for both Crookston and Duluth.
Winona shines early with balanced attack lead by Ashley Hewitt
Your NSIC Offensive Player of the Week is Ashley Hewitt of Winona State! Hewitt earns the big picture honors after scoring 2 goals in 99 minutes on the opening weekend. The Warriors couldn't have asked for a better start with 7 goals in 2 games, securing a 4-2 win against East Central and a 3-0 win over Nebraska Kearney. Everyone got in on the goal party with Reanne Weil, Jaida Wiege, Abigail Williams and Riley Harmon also scoring, while Sarah Strating and Madisson Watts contributed assists. Winona plays UW-Eau Claire on the 31st of August and UW-Parlside on Sunday the 4th.
Mankato and Bemidji face tough opponents early
Pictured: Olivia Thoen (Photo Credit: MSU Mavericks Athletics)
It must have felt a bit like deja vu to the Mavericks as they once again took the trip south to Missouri, familiar turf from past years and specifically, last years NCAA playoffs. Last year's NSIC champs started the trip with a solid 3-1 over Missouri Southern St (Goal and Assist by Brynn Desens). The 2nd game would be a tougher one. Mankato always seems to schedule a few tough opponents in non conference to challenge themselves, as most of the top table teams do. This year the challenge was a bit too much as Central Oklahoma snagged a 1-0 win in Joplin, Missouri. Central Oklahoma is a top squad who lost to Bemidji St in last years NCAA's in penalties. Bemidji also faced a huge task of their own, traveling to 2021 Summit League Tournament Champion South Dakota State in Brookings. Even though the Beavers opened last year with a win over D1 North Dakota, this years game may have shown the big gap between the top and bottom of the Summit League. SDSU is a veteran team who want to do more than just make the D1 NCAA Tournament, so the fact that Bemidji lost 3-0 at their house isn't anything to be worried about. In fact, it should give BSU a great measure of what it could take to raise their level this year as well.
U of M Crookston and Duluth find early wins
(Highlight Credit: UMD Athletics)
For teams who can't count on always being in the top of the table, scoring early wins can be so vital for confidence and momentum as we ramp into NSIC play. Duluth only won 3 games last year but they're 1-1 to start '22. How about this, 840 fans turned out for the season opening win over Michigan Tech! The best part, UMD Athletics made a highlights package and why not, the 2 goals are incredible. A rebounded volley/chip on the first goal was sensational by Jackie Jares. Then with under 10 seconds left (in college it is literally counted down) Jares hits a GOLAZO of a chip. A fairy tale ending to an opener with 840 fans. Great work to everyone involved in making that a special game.
(Photo Credit, UM-Crookston Athletics)
Last year Crookston won 1 game. They'll set their sights higher this year as they opened the season with a win for the first time since 2016. Waldorf visited the UM-Crookston Soccer Field on August 28 and the Golden Eagles were ready for it, holding 61% possession and getting goals from Abby Fettinger and Alyssa Pavlacic. Sarah Burgum, while Morgan Laplante and Jenna Custer had the assists on the day. Credit to Kathryn Brainerd, the Senior Keeper who got the win in goal with 2 saves. Crookston played 5 true freshmen in the opener, which should give optimism for potential growth.
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