Playing the tournament's top seed on the road, the University of Minnesota, Morris women's soccer team fell 1-0 to St. Scholastica in the semi-finals of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament Tuesday, Nov. 2.
"I think we played very, very well," head coach Dan Magner said after the match. "We put in a great effort, and stuck well to our game plan. Going in 0-0 at halftime, we wanted to shorten the game, make it only 45 minutes and take our chances."
Although the chances were slim, the Cougars had them late in the match, but it came down to a missed touch, or a pass just off, that kept UMM off the board.
"Looking at this game, we would have had to play just about perfect to win," Magner added. "We thought we'd have maybe two or three chances to try and steal it, and we nearly did. But I'm proud of this team, they played very well together and gave a lot to each other."
The host Saints finally cracked the Cougars in the 89th minute, after goalkeeper Emily Jacob and the Cougar defense had already turned away 15 shots.
Out-shooting the Cougars 15-0, the Saints were still shutout as the game went into the final two minutes. After Jacob stopped a shot from the far right, the Saint's Megan Flesvig came back just seconds later with a shot from the left that snuck in for the winner.
The Cougars held one of the highest scoring teams in the conference to one goal, and made them work nearly all 90 minutes for it. The Saints average over 23 shots, and three goals per game, but the Cougars held them well below each mark.
St. Scholastica and UMM have engaged in three memorable battles this season, each decided by just one goal. After a 1-0 Saint win in Duluth in September, the last two matches have went down to the wire, including a 2-1 St. Scholastica win at Cougar Field just weeks ago, where the Saints broke a 1-1 tie with just over 10 minutes left in the match.
"We talked after the game about how much improved we are since our first game," Magner said. "We've come a long way - and gave great effort... playing one of our best matches."
The season opener Magner referenced was a 2-1 loss to Saint Benedict back on Sept. 1. The Cougars opened the season 1-4, before ripping off a 7-5-2 mark in UMAC play and finishing with an 8-10-2 record overall. Playing their best as the season wore on, the Cougars ripped off a stretch where they lost just twice in nine matches, capped by their performance at St. Scholastica.
"We thought we might have a chance if it got to overtime," Magner said. "We felt like we would have had the momentum and all it takes is one bounce your way. But still, we gave great effort, were focused and played with a great attitude."
The loss marks the end of the careers for three Cougar seniors. Along with Jacob, Rachel Harstad and Liz Vold each played their last game in the maroon and gold.
Kyrie Jorgenson's unassisted goal in the 48th minute of Saturday's UMAC Tournament Championship put Northwestern over the College of St. Scholastica 1-0, earning the Eagles the conference's first automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament.