BROOKINGS, S.D. (UND Athletics) – The University of North Dakota’s 2019 season – the best in the Fighting Hawks Division I history – came to a close on Thursday in Summit League Championship as Denver’s Sami Feller scored two second-half goals to lift the Pioneers past UND, 3-0.
The Pioneers will take on the winner of Oral Roberts or host South Dakota State in the Championship match on Saturday at noon.
“We were a bit unlucky to not be up two-nil at halftime,” said Head Coach Chris Logan, “we had some excellent chances from Mara (Yapello) and Olivia Knox, and I just thought we were the better team in the first half. Denver had some chances as well, but I thought we were the better team.”
The two teams played a scoreless first half with Denver gaining the early chances, including a near goal in the first five minutes of the match that goalkeeper Madi Livingston gathered it on the ground as she sidled the goalpost to cradle the loose ball and end the Pioneers chance.
After settling in, the Fighting Hawks stretched the field with their speed, and as Mimi Eiden created the first real chance of the match in the 24th minute. The junior ran to the end line and crossed the ball past goalkeeper Brittany Wilson, in hopes of finding the foot of Knox, but the run by Knox overshot the ball and Pios cleared the opportunity.
Mara Yapello followed up with a pair of chances in the 29th and 37th minute as the junior won 50/50 chances dribbled the ball through defenders and volleyed to herself to create space. While one chance was cleared, the other was saved by the goalkeeper as the Mahtomedi, Minn., native lost her footing on the shot to lessen the power and curl behind it.
Denver struck first blood in the 48th minute and followed up in the 70th as Feller scored both goals on crosses from her teammates inside the box. The Pioneers added a third in the 86th minute as UND failed to clear the ball and it deflected off a defender for an own goal.
Livingston finished with six saves in the match while Mara Yapello tallied two shots on goal, while Karleen Yapello, Eiden, and Knox also recorded a shot on goal.
The match was North Dakota’s first-ever Summit League Tournament appearance and the program’s first-ever postseason match as an eligible NCAA Tournament participant in the Division I era.
“One of the things I told these seniors is when you look back to when you first came to this the program, it was probably in the bottom ten in the country,” said Logan.
“To go from that in three years, to a 10-win season and playing one of the better teams in the nation to a dead-even game, it’s phenomenal. Just showing our growth has been incredible, just in terms of the number of teams we can compete with and go toe-to-toe with,” Logan added.