• By Philip Green

Minot State soccer takes advantage of spring season

Just over one year to the date when COVID-19 shut down the country, the impacts of the pandemic continue in the area of athletics. Fall sports across the country, at almost every level, were canceled. Outside of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level for football, very few college teams were able to play a fall season. This was the case for Minot State’s soccer team.

Due to the cancellation of the fall season, MSU soccer has been playing in an expanded spring season inside the MSU Bubble.

To start the spring season in February, the Beavers went 3-0 with wins against Black Hills State University, University of Mary, and Montana State - Billings. March left the Beavers winless, with losses to Minnesota State University - Mankato and Augustana University.

This spring season is different than what the team is used to. Senior forward Melanie van Walstijn, one of the leading goal scorers for the Beavers in the 2019 season expanded on what the spring season will entail.

“We usually play a spring season, but we do have the opportunity to play more games than we normally do because we didn’t have a season in the fall. This is basically our season, but without a championship,” van Walstijn explained.

The Beavers are used to playing in stadiums in front of crowds during their fall season. This semester that won’t be the case as they play games in the bubble, but the team is focusing on the positives.

“Weather circumstances gladly won’t play a role in our practices or games. It is a little unfortunate we can’t have any supporters, but at least we are always sure that we will be able to play,” van Walstijn said.

COVID-19 took away the team’s fall season, but the Beavers are finding benefits as they navigate through the adversity.

“It is great that we have extra time to get to know each other and play longer with each other before we have an actual season. We have a lot of new girls on the team this year, and it has made it easier to teach everybody the style of play and what it takes to play at a college level in our conference,” van Walstijn said.

The Beavers have several goals they have set out to achieve this spring.

“The team goal this spring is to get the system we are trying to play down and get everybody fit and ready for the fall. This is a good time to see and feel what is needed to play in our conference, fitness and tactical-wise,” van Walstijn explained.

All the hard work that MSU soccer is putting in this spring is for achieving larger goals in the upcoming Fall 2021 season.

“We will be able to prepare ourselves for the fall, because we already played and will play some top teams from our conference. We won’t have a championship, so we will use this spring to learn and grow as a team so we can compete for the conference championship in the fall,” van Walstijn said.

There’s a lot for Minot State fans to look forward to when Herb Parker Stadium is open to the public again.

“Beaver fans can expect to watch a high intensity, willing to win, hardworking, and offensive-minded team,” van Walstijn said.

Minot State played Minnesota State University Moorhead on March 26 in the bubble. MSU won 3-1 and van Walstijn scored the first goal. The Beavers have four more games scheduled in April to wrap up their spring season.

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