Bears eye Big Sky title in final week of conference play
GREELEY – With just two games remaining in the Big Sky Conference schedule and the Northern Colorado women’s soccer team sitting in a tie for first-place, this weekend’s games could be history in the making. First, the Bears will take on Eastern Washington on Friday evening, then travel home to take on Montana.
Northern Colorado will play its final road match of the regular season, Friday evening, against the Eagles of Eastern Washington. The two teams have taken turns getting the upper-hand, with no team winning more than two games in a row. Currently, the Bears are enjoying a two-game winning streak over the Eagles, including last season’s 3-0 win at Jackson Stadium.
The Eagles come into the weekend tied for last place in the BIg Sky with a 1-4 conference mark. Overall, the team has a 2-11 record, but things are looking up in Cheney, as the team took down first-place Weber State last weekend 3-0. The Eagles’ other win came in a 4-0 blowout of Evergreen State.
The Bears will wrap up Big Sky play on Sunday afternoon with a matchup against Montana at Jackson Stadium. With first-place and a chance to host the Big Sky Conference Tournament on the line, the game will undoubtedly be tense. The two teams have each won two games in the series. Last season, the Bears battled the Grizzlies to a 0-0 draw in Missoula.
Northern Colorado will not be the only team with something to play for though on Sunday, as Montana comes into the weekend in fifth-place in the conference with a 2-2-1 Big Sky mark. With only the top-four teams getting a chance at tournament glory, the Griz’ will be hungry for a win to move up in the standings.
- Game 17: Northern Colorado (6-7-3, 3-1-1 Big Sky) at Eastern Washington (2-11, 1-4 Big Sky)
- When: 4:00 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21
- Where: Cheney, Washington – EWU Sports and Recreation Center Soccer Field
- Coaches: The Bears’ Tim Barrera (175-152-19) vs. the Eagles’ George Hageage (58-121-5)
- All-time series: The Bears lead 4-3, starting in 2004. Northern Colorado is 1-2 in Cheney.
2004 Eastern Washington L, 2-1
2005 at Eastern Washington W, 2-1
2006 at Eastern Washington L, 2-0
2007 Eastern Washington W, 3-1
2008 at Eastern Washington L, 1-0
2009 Eastern Washington W, 4-0
2010 Eastern Washington W, 3-0
- Game 18: Northern Colorado (6-7-3, 3-1-1 Big Sky) vs. Montana (5-9-2, 2-2-1 Big Sky)
- When: 12:00 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23
- Where: Greeley, Colorado – Jackson Stadium (1,840)
- Coaches: The Bears’ Tim Barrera (175-152-19) vs. the Grizzlies’ Mark Plakorus (5-9-2)
- All-time series: The series is tied 2-2-1, starting in 2006. Northern Colorado is 1-1 against Montana at home.
2006 at Montana W, 2-1
2007 Montana W, 2-1 (2OT)
2008 at Montana L, 3-2
2009 Montana L, 1-0
2010 at Montana T, 0-0
- The Bears began their transition to the NCAA Division I level in 2003-04 and were postseason eligible for the first time in 2007-08.
- Northern Colorado is in a race for first-place in the Big Sky Conference. With conference play wrapping up for all teams on Sunday, the Bears are currently tied with Weber State for first-place. Because of an earlier double-overtime loss to the Wildcats earlier, the Bears must win the conference outright. With two Bears wins and at least one Weber State loss or tie, the Bears would host the Big Sky Tournament. With a Bear win and draw, and at least two Weber State draws, the Bears would also win the conference.
- In first place coming into the weekend, the Bears are on the hunt for their first Big Sky title. The Bears have qualified for the Big Sky Tournament twice since joining the conference in 2006, including last season when they finished in fourth-place.
- Senior goalkeeper Kirstin Salminen had a fabulous weekend on the road for the Bears. In two road matches against Portland State and Sacramento State, Salminen made 13 saves and recorded two shutouts. In Sunday’s 0-0 draw against Sacramento State, the senior made eight saves to keep the score level. Salminen’s big weekend also catapulted her up the Northern Colorado history books. After Sunday, she moved into third-place on the school’s all-time saves list (292). She needs just 15 more saves to move past Chrissy Marvin and into second.
- With her late goal to put away a 3-1 victory over Idaho State, senior forward Ariel Cook moved into a tie for ninth in the school’s all-time career goals list (19). If the Arizona native can find four more goals before her career is through, she will find herself in the school’s top-five. Her goal against Idaho State also moved her into 10th place on the all-time points list (49).
- With an assist in Friday’s 1-0 road win over Portland State, senior Kimmie Feidler moved into the top-ten in the school’s all-time career assists list (12).
- For the third week in the row, the Bears are the Big Sky's best in the NCAA's RPI standings. This week, the Bears moved down in the standings to 225th, but are still ten spots above second-place Weber State, which came in at 235th. The highest-ranked opponent Northern Colorado has played is Denver -- which sits at 48th.
- Although the Bears have seen their offense fire up lately, the scoring has still been dispersed evenly throughout the team. JJ Wykstra leads the team in scoring (5), but nine other Bears have found the back of the net at least once.
- It seems like everybody on the Bears wants to be a hero. The team has had six different players score game-winning goals, with nobody scoring more than one.
- Three times this season, head coach Tim Barrera has enjoyed watching Kimmie Feidler and JJ Wykstra hook up on a corner-kick set-piece. It happened again on Friday, as Wykstra got on the end of another perfect corner-kick from Feidler for the game-winner against Portland State.
- The Bears opened up Big Sky play with a 2-0 win over defending regular season conference-champion Northern Arizona. It was the second time in school history that a Bears team opened up Big Sky play with a win. In 2007, the Bears started out 2-0 in conference competition.