NSIC in MN: Non Conference Northern Matchups, Bemidji State makes HIGHLIGHTS, Crookston "keeper" scores a goal, the Mavericks are tested for a tough opening weekend, and more!
Your favorite Minnesota D2 squads have been tested, they've worked out some tactics and are now heading into the gauntlet that is Northern Sun Conference Soccer. Nobody scheduled themselves a tougher start that Minnesota State Mankato, who faced ranked teams away and at home to mostly positive results. Because of a quirk in scheduling (we assume due to the summer loss of Upper Iowa to the GLVC), many of the NSIC teams faced each other in non conference play, which should make for interesting rematches and potentially 3rd game rubber matches in the Conference Tournament. MSU Moorhead, Bemidji State, St Cloud, and MN Duluth all could be even more familiar (too familiar?) by the end of fall. We are delighted to share a highlights package courtesy of Bemidji State, and we say that as a reminder that we will ALWAYS utilize media that teams create for fans "journalists"!. As the Northern Sun kicks off this weekend, your home for EVERY game is the NSIC Network, which you can access via the NSIC Network App or at NSICNetwork.com. Dig into early season game results, games to watch in the upcoming weekends, and highlights of the goings on around the NSIC in Minnesota.
Concordia St Paul starts NSIC with prime home games for Twin Cities soccer fans as Winona and Mankato come to town
The Golden Bears have had a mixed start to the season with 2 wins and 2 losses, but they’ve challenged themselves for the NSIC schedule. Losses to UW Parkside of the GLIAC and a solid team from McKendree will hopefully provide the lessons to handle an opening weekend at home in the Northern Sun Conference. Concordia opens on Friday against Winona State at 7pm at Sea Foam Stadium in St Paul. Winona had a solid run last year, they made the NSIC Tournament and certainly believe they can continue their upward trajectory. Meanwhile, Concordia had a solid 2022 but didn’t win as much as they could have, and they’ll look to get revenge on a Winona team that beat them 2-1 last year at home. After that they face Mankato this Sunday at 1pm in a HUGE early season matchup of postseason stalwarts. Equal Time will be on the ground at Sea Foam Stadium, see you there!
St Cloud beats UMD and Moorhead in non conference games, back at home vs Duluth this weekend to kick off NSIC play
St Cloud started their year with a hallowed tradition for NSIC teams, the UP double road trip against Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Unfortunately the beauty of the upper peninsula comes with a caveat of a potential early season trip up. St Cloud took a 3-0 loss at Northern Michigan after beating Michigan Tech 1-0 to end the trip north. However, a unique pair of non conference wins playing UMD and MSU Moorhead may have righted the ship. St Cloud opens NSIC play at 3-1 against UMD at home in Huskie Stadium before traveling to Bemidji State on Sunday.
Bemidji unbeaten after two road draws and a good non conference win over Minot State (plus they made HIGHLIGHTS)
Bemidji State got a HUGE early season 1-0 win over Minot State and we can tell you for certain because the Beaver Athletics team produced an amazing highlights package! Zoom ins and angle on a few amazing shots from BSU. Check out Freshman Lucy Stanton’s first collegiate goal at the 49 second mark. She started her scoring account with a banger to give BSU a good confidence boost with a non conference win over a NSIC rival (we know it’s confusing). The NCAA Quarterfinalists from last year open NSIC play at Crookston this Friday at 3pm before a matchup with St Cloud State at home on Sunday. A matchup between two squads with certain postseason plans, St Cloud will look to prove they can get a tough result when they need one this year against the top of the Conference.
Minnesota State Mankato beats Central Missouri, suffers revenge from Grand Valley State, starts gauntlet NSIC schedule
Nobody in the NSIC scheduled a non conference slate like the Mavericks of Mankato did. Minnesota State Mankato lined up #16 Emporia State, #20 Central Missouri and perennial contender Grand Valley State to test their squad early. It likely paid off. The Mavs drew Emporia State away, beat Central Oklahoma at the Pitch in Mankato (thanks to a literal last minute goal from Avery Korsching!), and took a tough 1-0 loss to Grand Valley State in a revenge game from last years win. The team should be battle tested and they’ll need to be, as they open NSIC play with the toughest two weekends in the Conference. They’ll go be at #15 Augustana on Friday, Sept 15, at Concordia St Paul Sun, Sept 17, with the next weekend being away at U Mary and Minot State. How many points can they expect from the first four games? We’ll be on the ground at CSP v MSU Mankato to find out!
Former keeper scores for Crookston in close game with Minot State
(UM Crookston has a whole series of "Get to Know" on their YouTube channel!)
Brooklyn Fischbach (pictured in the story header) had quite a return to the field this fall, and you can see it in her goal reaction. Fischbach scored a goal against Minot State in a game where Crookston nearly stole an impressive point off the Beavers of North Dakota. She was a field player in 2021, playing almost 1300 minutes, before moving to goal and playing a few games there in 2022. This fall she reminded us why she belongs on the field, scoring in an impressive, 2-1 loss for Crookston. Minot is as stingy a defense as you can face in the NSIC and Crookston nearly found an early season result for the bulletin boards. Crookston opens NSIC play at home vs Bemidji State this Friday at 3pm (stream on NSIC Network). They’ll face Minot in conference play on Friday, October 13.
Games to Watch (NSIC Network App or NSICNetwork.com)
Thursday, Aug 31
MN Crookston 0-6 Wayne State
MN Duluth 3-4 Northern Michigan
Oklahoma Baptist 0-7 Minnesota State Mankato
St Cloud State 1-0 Michigan Tech
Friday, Sept 1
Concordia St Paul 2-0 Upper Iowa
Morningside (Iowa) 2-1 Southwest MN State
Winona State 1-2 McKendree University
Bemidji State 1-1 Missouri Western State
Saturday, Sept 2
St Cloud State 0-3 Northern Michigan
Western Colorado 0-2 MSU Moorhead
MN Duluth 1-1 Michigan Tech
Sunday, Sept 3
Concordia St Paul 0-3 McKendree University
Central Missouri 3-0 Southwest MN State
Winona State 2-0 Upper Iowa
Minot State 2-1 MN Crookston
Rockhurst 0-0 Bemidji State
Minnesota State Mankato 0-0 Emporia State
Monday, Sept 4
MSU Moorhead 0-1 U Mary
Friday, Sept 8
UW Parkside 1-0 MSU Moorhead
Central Missouri 0-1 Minnesota State Mankato
St Cloud State 2-0 MN Duluth
Southwest MN State 0-4 Washburn (Kan)
Upper Iowa 0-3 Bemidji State
MN Crookston 0-6 Concordia St Paul
Sunday, Sept 10
MN Crookston 0-3 Upper Iowa
Winona State 0-0 Truman State
Northern State 1-3 MN Duluth
UW Parkside 2-0 Concordia St Paul
MSU Moorhead 1-2 St Cloud State
Grand Valley State 1-0 Minnesota State Mankato
Tuesday, Sept 12
Minot State 0-1 Bemidji State
You can watch the show below or you can listen to it as a podcast on Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher. Show presented by Pentz Homes (pentzhomes.com) and Modist Brewing (modistbrewing.com)
4 Things on UMN/UST: Wins to Ties & Ties to Losses, Keeper Play, Scoring Extremes, Winning in Different Ways, Training & Recovery Time
Wins to Ties, Ties to Losses
As much as I praised the Gophers hard fought tie on the road against a top SEC foe in #22 Georgia, Minnesota saw it as a game they really could have won. When I chatted with freshman standout Kate Childers before her video interview after their 5-0 win over St Thomas, the first thing she (and Head Coach Erin Chastain) mentioned about the Georgia game was that they have to aim for more.
And though a tie against a top team will certainly be valuable for Minnesota in building a post season resume, the result does fit into a trend we've mentioned before: letting wins turn into ties and letting possible ties (or wins) turn into losses. When you look back at your season, it's not about rewriting the entire thing into a fairy tail. It's about those small moments that, either due to bad luck or lack of focus or whatever, turned a hard fought tie or win into a loss (St Thomas vs UNI in their opener, Minnesota at UW Milwaukee) or a really hard fought possible win into a tie (MN at Georgia).
As we approach conference play and the games get even tougher, the margins between those results may only tighten, and the impact of them may only grow.
If you weren't able to watch the Gophers play at Georgia or St Thomas play at the Gophers, I'd strongly encourage you to at least scroll through their live tweet feeds linked above. Because even with wildly different score lines, they both contained some really fantastic individual goalkeeping moments from Megan Plaschko (against Georgia) and Olivia Rowe (against the Gophers).
You might be reading this and thinking: "Matt, the Toms lost 5-0. How in the hell are you going to specifically praise their goalkeeping?!" But if you watch the whole game, you know that Rowe's confidence and quickness off the line and her tactical punch game kept St Thomas in that game far more than they would have been otherwise (reminder that the game was 1-0 until the 75th minute, basically).
And while the entire Gophers defensive unit played out of their minds in order to keep Georgia scoreless, Plaschko in particular was just spectacular. As it turns out, really good keeper play is a total blast to watch.
The fall of 2023 is apparently the era of scoring extremes. We're either living through scoreless and one goal games or we're fully opening up the floodgates with 4, 5, 7 goals pouring in!
But if you only look at the scoresheet after the fact, it can be easy to forget just how differently the run of play and the flow of the game can be from one match to the next. Teams that sit with an incredibly tight defensive shape and build up a nation-leading shutout streak might get a little too confident and throw numbers forward, allowing a ton of goals after not giving up any (Indiana against MN last year). A playing surface, field size, and defensive shape might mean a team can completely slog things down at home much better than on the road (many examples).
But one thing continues to hold true, getting that first goal is still unbelievably valuable for these squads. Not only does it help give you confidence in your individual abilities and team game plan, it forces the other team to take at least a bit more risk getting forward -- opening up even more space for you on the counter and in the attack.
Training & Recovery Time
As I very regularly remind our readers, viewers, listeners, etc: the college soccer season is an absolute grind. You're usually playing two games a weekend. Sometimes you only have a single day off in between those games. Sometimes you're traveling on the off days and the recovery and rest value is minimized. Sometimes you're traveling for *both* games. In short: it can suck.
This particular stretch of the combined calendar for the Gophers and Toms is uniquely "restful". Over the next three weekends, the two programs play a combined 7 matches during a stretch that could typically have as many as 12. I might not have noticed this trend so specifically if not for the formatting of my own internal google sheet (forgive the screen grab image below) and the oceans of white space that jumps out.
What I'll be tracking is: do the teams seem to tighten up some areas for improvement (corner kick execution for Minnesota for example) due to the extra training time and do the teams seem to have just a bit more pep in their step due to a little extra recovery time between matches?
Help Us Spread the Word!
This week, I'll be on the road covering St Thomas at Drake and Minnesota at Creighton. This kind of trip is only possible because of the support of our Patrons (patreon.com/equaltimesoccer) and our partners Pentz Homes (pentzhomes.com) and Modist Brewing (https://modistbrewing.com/).
But even if you aren't quite ready to jump in with financial support, we always appreciate if you can help spread the word on social media and let folks know about our Minnesota women's soccer coverage. And, as always, feel free to reach out with any suggestions, questions, or ideas you have for us!
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