I could not have found a better way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon then watching the North Dakota State Bison soccer team battle the University of Minnesota at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was the closest the Bison had to home game this year. As playing in their first year of Division 1 soccer called for 17 road games. The turn out for NDSU was tremendous. They drew nearly as many fans as the Gophers.
Before the game Brooke Hartman was honored for her spectacular play and accomplishments over the past 4 years on and off the field. I had no idea that they would be honoring her and although I am a strong supporter of Bison athletics, I would not have been in attendance Sunday if Brooke were not playing. For this reason it was a delightful surprise. Now anyone who knows Brooke knows that she sets out to be the best at whatever she does. For this reason the list of her accomplishments is seemingly endless and took the announcer about 5 minutes to rattle off.
After a wonderful pre game both teams took the field. In the first half the Bison looked strong. They had a couple of scoring opportunities early but just couldn’t put it in. Then the Gophers struck first on a one timer scored by Haley Lentsch. It didn’t take long for the Bison to answer back. In the final minutes of the first half Michelle Martinez scored from about 30 yards out. The ball hit the cross bar, bounced off the ground, hit the cross bar again and went in. It was a great shot and the Bison fans were juiced.
Towards the end of the first half Carly Christensen showed the Gophers that she wasn’t going to take their physical play without a fight. After getting knocked down from behind she stood up and gave a U of M player an elbow to the shoulder. Later in the half she took one of the Gophers down and although she was called for a penalty the crowd rallied behind her.
The second half was looking good until Kelli Reed mishandled an easy shot from Becky Delleria to give the Gophers a 2-1 lead. The Bison continued to work hard, but about midway through the second half they lost Carly Christensen as she broke her nose on a collision with a U of M player going for a header. The Gophers had a chance to put the game away later in the half as Haley Lentsch had a breakaway. However, Brooke Hartman and another Bison player chased her down and made the stop.
Things were just too tough to overcome once Jami Rozell was issued her second yellow card of the game which resulted in an ejection and a one game suspension. The Bison were forced to play a player short the rest of the game and the Gophers added another goal to make the score 3-1.
I was very proud of the North Dakota State women as they fought hard and could have pulled this one off had a couple of things gone their way. My college soccer experience was more then I had hoped for and I have to thank the girls for giving me a great game to watch. The North Dakota State Bison will be playing out the rest of their season in California in two weeks.
Congratulations to Brooke Hartman on a great career at NDSU and good luck with the rest of the Season.