There is an old saying among soccer coaches, “The team that possesses the ball for a majority of the game will most likely win.”
The statement rang true for many years, but in the new age of soccer, it has become less important. Just ask the North Dakota State women’s soccer team.
Despite dominating the possession battle, the Bison dropped their home opener last Friday at Dacotah Field. To make it worse, it was a 1-0 loss in the North Dakota Derby to the University of North Dakota.
The Fighting Hawks were coming off a two-win season, but got off to a hot start against the reigning Summit League regular season champions.
While the Bison were mounting the pressure on the Fighting Hawks goal, NDSU gave up an innocent looking foul at midfield in the 84th minute. That was all the Hawks needed to sniff out a win.
The bodies went forward for UND, with junior defense-man Emma Contino standing over the ball to send it in. Instead of sending the ball over the top of the Bison’s defensive line, Contino went for goal from 40-yards away.
The shot lofted into the air, over NDSU goalkeeper Monica Polgar’s hands, and nestled into the top corner.
It was the second shot on goal for the Fighting Hawks that put them ahead, but the first should have as well.
In the 12th minute, it was another defense-man getting forward for UND. Olivia Geiwitz was all alone behind the Bison defense, but put her shot onto Polgar’s crossbar.
For the next 72 minutes, the Bison looked in control. NDSU registered 14 shots in the first half, then added another nine in the second.
Both Mariah Haberle and Danielle Algera tested goalkeeper Catherine Klein three times. Klein was up to the task each time, plus on one Holly Enderle effort.
NDSU also held an 8-2 edge in corner kicks, but UND held on for the first win under new head coach, and former NDSU assistant, Chris Logan.
The slow start continued for the Bison on Monday, with a 3-0 loss to the University of Minnesota.
This time, it was the Bison’s turn to be on the back foot, with the Gophers on the gas early.
Polgar was already tested once when Minnesota senior Sydney Squires opened the scoring. Squires bundled home Megan Koenig’s cross in the 10th minute to give the Gophers the early lead.
The lead doubled just seven minutes later. Junior Emily Heslin’s curling free kick evaded Polgar and snuck inside the far post to make it 2-0.
NDSU went into the halftime break not only with a two-goal deficit, but without a shot recorded.
The job got harder for the Bison two minutes into the second half. Koenig caught Polgar off her line and chipped a 25-yard shot into the top corner.
NDSU finally tested Minnesota goalkeeper Kailee Sharp just after the hour mark. Enderle was put through all alone, but Sharp smothered the tame shot.
The Bison look to bounce back on the road. The Minnesota trip opened a seven-game road trip that will cover four states. They return to action on Friday against Weber State in Utah.
The team will be welcomed back to Fargo on Sunday, Sept. 17, when they play host to Utah Valley.