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Hustling to get up to Romano Gym to catch UMD’s season-opening volleyball match in the strong-as-usual Northern Sun race, the fog of Friday night obscured almost everything outside the parking lot. I parked, got out of the car, and heard some yipping and yelping nearby, and realized there was a soccer game going on.
I enjoy soccer, and the Bulldogs are much improved this season, so I thought it was worth a look, on my way into the volleyball game. Camera ready, I walked out to the sideline, and realized I could hear the game going on, but I couldn’t see anybody. Great credit must go to the small group of fans who kept cheering what I assume were impressive plays, and UMD was in the lead against Minnesota-Crookston. Turns out, UMD won 4-0, on goals by Mikayla Iaquinto, Emily Hinz, Haley Ford and Tiana Degrande. I tried to figure out who was in goal
for UMD, but honestly, it was indiscernible. It was also inconsequential, because UMD held Crookston without a single shot.
Inside, it was clear and much more orderly, as UMD beat Upper Iowa 25-20, 25-21, 25-20 to sweep the conference opener. Kate Berg had 15 kills and was named player of the match.
The next day, the UMD women hit the court to take on Winona State in a 2 p.m. game before football and lightning took over. On the court, UMD provided the lightning, beating Winona 25-22, 25-16, 25-19 for another
3-0 sweep. Abby Thor was player of the match this time, with 11 kills, while Hanna Meyer led with 15.
“Winona was 8-0 before this weekend,” said UMD coach Jim Boos. “They lost in four at St. Cloud on their way up here. But they’ve got a young and energetic team, and they forced us into some missed defensive assignments. Fortunately, every time they got close enough to challenge, we were able to get some big plays.”
After having their opening non conference tournament in Florida hurricaned out, and scrambling to find another tournament in Texas, Boos said he’s pleased at how well his Bulldogs have opened the season. In the NSIC, of course, things never get easier.
UMD plays at Concordia Friday, and then goes to Mankato for what should be a very interesting weekend.
For sports fans, Sunday probably meant watching the Vikings beat Oakland, and a big victory should help re-establish things for this weekend, when the Vikings go to Chicago to face the Bears — my pick to win the North Division. But did you notice? While Kirk Cousins did nothing to generate more criticism by winning, he also barely threw the ball.
Dalvin Cook has been the highlight of the season so far, running with speed and force, it appears coach Mike Zimmer wants a game plan that calls for running — not at all costs, but if at all possible. There are NFL teams you can run against, and then most of them, which are very difficult to run against. And for those, it will require a strong, takeover performance by Cousins with his passing.
Atlanta couldn’t stop the run, and neither could Oakland. It is the Vikings good luck that they have been able to play both of them in their first three games. The Green Bay Packers were tougher to run against, and that was when Cousins had the worst game of his Vikings tenure.
Next up, the Chicago Bears will have the best defense the Vikings will see, maybe all season. It will be a fascinating test to see if Cook can run wild against the Bears, and whether he can or can’t, whether Kirk Cousins can find and hit his targets.
Meanwhile, Detroit plays Green Bay, which will also be interesting. If you don’t think so, check the standings. In first place, the Detroit Lions!
The most entertaining game last weekend was in Seattle, where New Orleans, without the injured Drew Brees, put Teddy Bridgewater to work. He looked great, and the Saints shocked the Seahawks. It would have been a blowout, but Russell Wilson led Seattle back on a determined fourth-quarter rally that got the Seahawks within reach. But they ran out of time.
The Formula 1 series moves to Russia this Sunday, after a stirring race at Singapore last Sunday. Sebastian Vettel won the race, narrowly, over his Ferrari teammate, Charles Leclerc, with Max Verstappen third in a Red Bull-Honda. Points leader Lewis Hamilton and his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, were fourth and fifth. The point is
that the once-dominant Mercedes team is suddenly not so dominant, and now has failed to win the last four races.
And if you missed it, we have a nomination for the state’s best soccer player. It is hard to imagine any player, boy or girl, having a better week than Paige Peltier of Cretin-Derham Hall had. She scored six goals in a 9-0 romp over Forest Lake, then she scored all five goals in a 5-4 battle Cretin-Derham Hall won over Mounds View, then got four goals in a 9-0 rout of Irondale, before C-DH lost 4-1 to Andover, when Peltier scored the only goal. For the four games, that’s 16 goals, and four assists. If you know anything about soccer, you know that a good player might go all season without getting 16 scoring chances — let alone 16 goals in four games.
My other bit of advice: If you’re playing in Section 78, beware or Andover!