Beavers win NSIC soccer championship
Mankato, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2012) - It didn't take long for Minot State University women's soccer to make its mark in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
The Beavers knocked off its second higher ranked opponent in as many games, defeating No. 2 seed Winona State 1-0 in the NSIC / US Bank Women's Soccer Tournament championship Sunday at the Pitch at Gage Towers on the campus of Minnesota State University.
"It hit me like a 2x4 about (30 minutes after the final whistle)," said MISU head coach Jason Spain, "that we just qualified for the national tournament. We have focused on this basically the entire time since I arrived here three years ago. I am at a loss for words."
The NSIC / US Bank Women's Soccer Tournament championship gives Minot State an automatic berth in the NCAA Division II National Tournament. It marks the first NCAA DII national tournament for Minot State in its first year as a full member of the NCAA and it is the first title and trip for women's soccer in just three seasons of existence. The Beavers will learn their first-round opponent and site during a live stream selection show on NCAA.com Monday at 6:30 p.m.
After using an aggressive, attacking style in the first half against the University of Mary in Wednesday's quarterfinals, the Beavers were nearly perfect in a defensive, counterpunching approach over the past five halves. Despite getting outshot 54-7 in two matches, the Beavers gave up just one goal and kept both opponents from generating many quality chances.
"I have never had a team that just stares at you when you give them a game plan, executes it in practice and then goes out and does it perfectly in games," Spain said. "They have been amazing all year. We sagged, sagged and then closed it down, forcing wide shots and then had to capitalize on our chance."
That chance in Sunday's game turned out to be the game-winner from Zoe Fisher (So., M, Cambridgeshire, England) in the 68th minute on a crossing feed from Jamie MacFarlane (Jr., F, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). It was Fisher's 11th goal of the season, breaking her own record for goals in a season and her sixth game-winner of the year.
"We have been working on getting Jamie to take people on the dribble a little more, not to shoot early ball or serve early passes," said Spain. "She did a great job of that and Zoe gets separation in the box no matter who is marking her. The girl was on her and then Zoe had three yards, just like that."
Fisher was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and was joined on the NSIC / US Bank All-Tournament team by Marie Torres (Sr., GK, San Bruno, Calif.), Lexy Kidd (Sr., M, Sutter, Calif.) and Tara McPartland (Sr., F, Sandy, Utah).
In Sunday's final, the Beavers - which improved to 15-3-3 on the season - held Winona (16-5-0) to just three shots on goal despite giving up 19 shots.
When teams did get decent chances, Torres did everything to lock down saves. She finished with three saves for her eighth shutout of the season and ended the NSIC / US Bank Tournament with 21 saves.
"She was absolutely ridiculous for us this weekend," Spain said of Torres. "We wanted to force them into 30-yard shots and let her go to work. She was just amazing in the tournament."
Photo provided by SPX Sports