By Griffin Nelson, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Dragons soccer team kicked off their regular season a long way from home—1,427 miles away, to be exact.
Departing from Hector International Airport in Fargo Aug. 29, the Dragons spent five days in Seattle, Washington and competed in two non-conferences games against stiff, West Coast competition.
The first match took place Aug. 30, a heavy 1-6 defeat at the hands of Simon Fraser University, Canada’s only NCAA-affiliated school. Sophomore midfielder Carly Jo Gamrath came away with the lone goal for MSUM. The Dragons dropped their second match to Seattle Pacific University 0-2 on Sep. 1.
The results were shaky but Coach Christie Kopietz was excited about how her team handled the uncommon competition.
“For me, non-conference games allow us to figure out what where we need to improve,” Kopietz said. “I want to win every game, but conference is where you’re trying to make the NCAA tournament. Those teams pushed us. It’s good to see that kind of competition.”
The Dragons (0-2) opened their Northern Sun conference (NSIC) play at home against the Northern State Wolves (2-1) Sunday, Sept. 9th.
Kopietz, in her third year as head coach, had her sights on a trip like this for a long time.
“We’ve been trying to put this trip together for two years now,” Kopietz said, recounting the amount of planning and fundraising that went into the trip, “It’s a really unique experience to travel as a team like that. It bonds you in a totally different way.”
Choosing the destination was the easy part for Kopietz, alluding to members of Dragons Soccer that were originally from the surrounding Seattle area.
“The reason we went out there was because we have four players from Washington,” Kopietz said “It was really neat for the players and their families to get that experience of them being home.”
The Dragons were on a business trip, but they made sure to sprinkle some fun in, too.
Between games on Friday, the Dragons took some time away from the practice pitch and checked out some of Seattle’s historic hot spots, including the famous Pike Place Market and the Ferris Wheel at Pier 57. The break from soccer added to what was an incredible adventure for the team.
Kopietz cherished watching her team take in the whole experience.
“Just seeing the joy in the moments where they’re seeing something for the first time, or being at Pike Place Market together, those moments are going to last you a lifetime,” Kopietz said.
“I think the whole trip was just a good team building experience,” junior midfielder Maren Soupir said. “It was awesome, we all got to know each other a lot more.”
Soupir, a team captain, couldn’t decide between Pike Place Market and the Ferris Wheel as her favorite memory of the trip.
Coach Kopietz favorite moment? Seeing how her team battled back after the tough loss against Simon Fraser.
“To be able to bounce back from a loss that’s pretty crushing,” Kopietz said, ”And actually perform really well in the second game. I was super proud of them.”