Bears begin Big Sky play looking for revenge
GREELEY -- After battling through a tough non-conference schedule, the Northern Colorado women's soccer program is chomping at the bit to kick off its Big Sky Conference season Friday night under the lights of Jackson Stadium.
The Bears finally open up a much-anticipated Big Sky season with a matchup against the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona. Northern Colorado will be tested right away in Big Sky play, as the 'Jacks are the defending Big Sky regular season champions. Along with stalking their first win in conference, the Bears will also be looking to avenge a 1-0 loss to NAU in the Big Sky Conference Tournament last season.
The 'Jacks come into the weekend with a 1-7-3 record, but have played a number of tough opponents, including the likes of Arizona State, Missouri and Nebraska. In a series that has been competitive throughout, NAU currently holds a slight 4-3 lead over the Bears and are riding a two-game winning streak in the series.
On Sunday afternoon, Northern Colorado will once again lock up with the rival Cowgirls of Wyoming in Laramie. Wyoming enjoyed success early on in the series - winning the first five matches between the two teams. But the Bears have claimed a stake in the rivalry as of late, as they have won two of the last three, including a 2-1 home win last season.
The Cowgirls come into the weekend with a 6-4-2 record and are unbeaten in their last five (3-0-2). The team was picked to finish fifth in the Mountain West Conference in the preseason coaches' poll.
- Game 1: Northern Colorado (3-5-2, 0-0-0 Big Sky) vs. Northern Arizona (1-7-3, 0-0-0 Big Sky)
- When: 7:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30
- Where: Greeley, Colo. -- Jackson Stadium (1,860)
- Coaches: The Bears' Tim Barrera (172-150-18) vs. the Lumberjacks' Andre Luciano(82-98-24)
- All-time series: Northern Arizona leads 4-3, starting in 2005. The Bears are 2-0 at Jackson Stadium.
2005 at Northern Arizona L, 3-0
2006 at Northern Arizona W, 2-1
2007 Northern Arizona W, 1-0
2008 at Northern Arizona L, 2-1
2009 Northern Arizona W, 4-0
2010 at Northern Arizona L, 1-0
2010 at Northern Arizona* L, 1-0
* - Big Sky Conference Tournament Semi-Final
- Game 2: Northern Colorado (3-5-2, 0-0-0 Big Sky) at Wyoming (6-4-2, 0-0-0 Mountain West)
- When: 1:00 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2
- Where: Laramie, Wyo. -- Louis S. Madrid Sports Complex (1,500)
- Coaches: The Bears' Tim Barrera (172-150-18) vs. the Cowgirls' Danny Sanchez (351-90-26)
- All-time series: Wyoming leads 6-2, starting in 2003. The Bears are 1-3 in Laramie.
2003 at Wyoming L, 1-0
2004 Wyoming L, 1-0 (2OT)
2005 at Wyoming L, 2-1
2006 Wyoming L, 1-0
2007 at Wyoming L, 3-0
2008 Wyoming W, 1-0
2009 Wyoming L, 1-0
2010 at Wyoming W, 2-1
- 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.
- After opening the season with a brutal schedule and a 1-5-1 record, the Bears have picked a good time to get rolling. The team prepares to open up Big Sky play in the midst of a three-game unbeaten streak, the longest so far in 2011.
- The Bears offense has exploded during the team's current unbeaten streak. In the season's first seven games, the team scored three goals, but has scored eight in the last three games. Senior Ariel Cook is a big reason behind the Bears' offensive resurgence, after scoring a goal and notching two assists in Northern Colorado's 4-2 win over South Dakota. Cook's efforts earned her this week's Big Sky Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
- The NCAA released its first national RPI standings of 2011 this week and brought good news for the Bears. Currently, Northern Colorado sits at 193rd nationally and is the top-ranked Big Sky team in the standings. Sacramento State is the next highest Big Sky team - coming in at 242nd. Denver, a team that the Bears took to overtime to start the season, sit at 39th nationally.
- With her four points in Sunday's victory over South Dakota, Ariel Cook moved into 11th place in the school's all-time points list. She leapfrogged two players with her productive afternoon. Already, the Gilbert, Ariz. native is Northern Colorado's all-time Division I points leader.
- Coming into the weekend, Northern Colorado goalkeeper Kirstin Salminen is second in the Big Sky in saves (50). Her 258 career saves is good for fifth all-time in school history, while her 11 shutouts (2 this year) is the most in Bears Division I history.
- On Sunday, the Bears will look to make it three out of four against Wyoming and three in a row against Mountain West opponents. Earlier this season, the team defeated instate-rival Air Force 1-0.
- Although the Bears have seen their offense fire up lately, the scoring has still been dispersed evenly throughout the team. Three players (Birdsall, Feidler, Wykstra) have scored two goals apiece this season, while five other players have scored once.
- Forward Ariel Cook finds herself second in the Big Sky in assists (4) and ninth in total points (6).
- Senior midfielder Kimmie Feidler is second in the Big Sky in total shots on goal (29). As a team, the Bears are also second in the Big Sky in total shots (153).
- With their 4-2 win over the South Dakota Coyotes on Sunday, the Bears grabbed their first win at Jackson Stadium in 2011. Last season, the Bears were dominant in Greeley, as they put together a 5-2 mark at home. Currently, Northern Colorado holds a 1-1-2 record inside the friendly confines of Jackson Stadium.