August 27, 2010

Soccer loses hard-fought battle to Idaho

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GREELEY, Colo. – For the first time all season, the Northern Colorado women's soccer squad has tasted bitter defeat. The Bears lost 3-2 on Friday night to the Vandals of Idaho at Jackson Stadium.

In a game in which Northern Colorado was forced to play catch-up for a majority of the time, the Bears couldn't quite score an equalizing goal, despite outshooting Idaho 19-9.

The Vandals got on the board first when the Bears allowed a goal after Idaho forward Jill Flockhart's cross attempt was knocked in by a Northern Colorado defender. The play began after Bears' goalkeeper Kirstin Salminen failed to beat Flockhart to the ball, leaving the net unattended.

"That first goal was really a combination of several mistakes," said Northern Colorado head coach Tim Barrera. "First, we shouldn't have let the pass get that far into our half and we should have made a better decision as far as Kirstin [Salminen] trying to go get it."

In the 23rd minute, Idaho once again found the back of the net when Megan Lopez struck home a cross from Flockhart that found the bottom right corner of the net.

Down 2-0 and looking for any kind of momentum going into halftime, the Bears finally got on the board in the 38th minute after Ariel Cook connected on a header that sailed across the goal line. The score was set up off of a corner-kick piece, with Kimmie Feidler getting the assist.

In the second half, Northern Colorado controlled much of the action, firing 10 shots compared to just four for Idaho. But despite the seeming dominance on the pitch by the Bears, they once again found themselves down two goals after Idaho's Erica Hart beat Salminen on a break-away opportunity.

With time dwindling, Northern Colorado made the game interesting when freshman Brittany Dunn knocked in her first collegiate goal on a strike from just inside the penalty area.  With the goal coming in the 86th minute, however, the Bears couldn't muster the equalizing goal they were looking for.

"I thought we came out a little sluggish in the first half," Barrera said. "But I don't have any issue with the effort we gave tonight. I think we just need to be a little sharper and take advantage of some of the opportunities we were presented with.

"I thought we had a lot of good crosses that came into the penalty area, we just couldn't finish the plays. The team definitely played hard, though, and I'm proud of the girls for never giving up even being down 2-0 in the first half. It's not always easy to keep fighting after letting up early goals, but I thought we did a good job of competing."

Northern Colorado plays next on Sunday, August 29, when it travels to Boulder to take on Colorado. The Buffs will come into Sunday's game well rested, having had an entire week to prepare for the Bears. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.