Bulldogs’ soccer finds their rhythm early in season

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University of Minnesota Duluth Women’s soccer team kicked off its 24th season on the right foot, starting 3-0 in 2017. It’s the first time the Bulldogs have started 3-0 since 2005 (finished 8-11-0 overall that year.)

The Bulldogs started off at home in Malosky Stadium against Great Lakes Valley Conference member the University of Wisconsin Parkside Rangers (1-4; 0-2 GLVC) with a 3-0 victory.

Junior midfielder Natalie St. Martin got things going at 54:44, putting the ball in the back of the net off a pass from senior captain Skye Finley. St. Martin would be credited with an assist on the following goals, finishing with a career high four points.

A road trip to Michigan this past weekend proved to be little trouble for UMD, which continued to roll with its goal scoring. The Bulldogs routed the Northern Michigan Wildcats (0-4 overall) of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in a 2-0 bout.

In its matchup against Michigan Tech -- also out of the GLIAC -- UMD finally surrendered its first goal of the season at 62:25. The lone goal from the Huskies did them little good, as the Bulldogs finished them off in a 3-1 win.

“We’ve really settled into a defensive posture that seems to be restricting for our opponents,” head coach Greg Cane said. “We’ve had three opponents, and they’ve played in basically two different fashions - with [Michigan] Tech being more open of the two. And though that did give us some challenges, we ultimately managed that.”

With a defense that has allowed just one goal on the season thus far, the UMD offense has been able to prosper. The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 8-1; seven of those coming in the final 45 minutes of the games.

“It says a lot about our game,” Cane said. “Our game is about two different styles sometimes; trying to put their will on the other. And at this level you’re going to have teams that are equal in fitness and equal in mentality, and it takes a while to break teams down. You might have the good fortune of getting an early goal, or a first half goal, but by in-large it’s going to be breaking a team down, which takes time.”

UMD will open its Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference campaign against St. Cloud State University on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. in Malosky Stadium. Cane knows the importance of getting out ahead of the pack early in conference play.

“Three points,” Cane said with a chuckle. “That’s how important it is. Three points, when there’s a maximum of 45 that you can earn, and the high has probably been 30 in the league - somewhere around there - against a team that’s probably going to finish, is projected to finish, close to us in the standings. Three points is big.”

Rolling into a three game homestand, the Bulldogs will have a little extra momentum knowing that senior captain Skye Finley, collared with NSIC Offensive Player of The Week honors for her performance this weekend. Finley capped off the weekend with a pair of goals.

Fellow teammate Natalie St. Martin took home the honors the previous week, having been the first to do so for UMD since 2014.

The Bulldogs will face off against the University of Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m., and the Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bears on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m.

SportsRyan DePauw