If one were to make a highlight tape from Minot State University’s 23-17 triple-overtime win over Augustana (S.D.) on Saturday night, chances are MSU junior wideout Nate Christianson wouldn’t make the cut.
Fellow receivers Wayne Peters and Porter Sturm produced the flashier plays and statistics – combining for 162 yards and three touchdowns – but Christianson proved valuable in his own right. The 6-foot-3, 189-pounder from Havre, Mont., caught four passes for 40 yards, including two first downs.
Christianson showed the ability to be a reliable No. 3 option in the passing game for the Beavers (1-1), who travel to Southwest Minnesota State on Friday.
“We got a great group of receivers,” Christianson said. “I just gotta accept my role and catch the ball.”
Christianson is content in the No. 3 role. In fact, he’s just happy to be contributing again.
The lanky wideout was the Beavers’ second-leading receiver in 2011, catching 29 balls for 333 yards and three touchdowns. But back-to-back injuries – a broken leg and retina surgery – forced Christianson to take a medical redshirt last season.
“There’s been a lot of setbacks, but at the same token, he kept fighting and had his mind made up that he was gonna get back on the field this year,” MSU coach Paul Rudolph said. “Before he got hurt, he was really coming on. I kind of thought he picked up Saturday night where we were hoping he was gonna pick up.”
Christianson was slated to be the backup to Central Washington transfer Leon LaDeaux in the preseason. LaDeaux – who missed the Beavers’ first two games with a suspension – may be available Friday, but Rudolph expects Christianson to remain a factor in the passing game the rest of the season.
Christianson – in his fifth season with the MSU program – certainly has gained the trust of sophomore quarterback Zac Cunha.
“He’s been in every situation, basically,” Cunha said. “He knows the offense really well and he’s a guy you can count on.”
Soccer team seeking scoring touch
The MSU women’s soccer team has managed just one goal during its 0-1-2 start, and coach Jason Spain is starting to get frustrated.
Spain said the Beavers hit the crossbar twice and the post once in a 1-1 tie with Southwest Baptist (Mo.) on Sept. 12, then hit the crossbar two more times in a 2-0 loss to No. 24 Central Missouri on Saturday.
“We gotta make more of our shots,” Spain said. “Hitting the bar is missing. We’ve had easy chances we’ve missed.”
Spain acknowledged that misfiring on easy opportunities is better than not creating them at all. But he said a lack of finishing has also hurt the team’s sturdy defense.
“We get caught having to push forward because we’ve been so bad at finding the net,” he said. “We’re forcing our backs to cheat forward and giving up some easier shots.”
The Beavers hope to find some scoring as Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play resumes this week. MSU travels to Southwest Minnesota State (4-0 overall, 1-0 NSIC) Saturday and Sioux Falls (0-4, 0-1) on Sunday.
Spain said junior forward Zoe Fisher – the NSIC preseason offensive player of the year – needs to “break the ice.” Fisher led the conference in points and tied for the lead with 11 goals last season. The striker from England assisted countrywoman Chloe Melton on the Beavers’ only goal of the season.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.