Shoddy defense and goalkeeping on a pair of set pieces kept the Minot State University women's soccer team from picking up a much-needed Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win.
Minnesota Duluth scored on a corner kick in the first half and a free kick in the second, then held on to beat the Beavers 2-1 Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
MSU coach Jason Spain replaced sophomore goalie Gemma Biasetto in the second half after she yielded the game-winner. With about 39 minutes remaining, Duluth forward Dani Potter struck a free kick from 27 yards out toward the lower right corner of the net. Biasetto dove on the ball and attempted to smother it, but it trickled into the net.
Minot State University senior defender Jazmine Whitlock makes a move in front of Minnesota Duluth defender Megan Helberg on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"(Potter) put the ball where she was supposed to," Duluth coach Greg Cane said. "It probably should've been handled better, but those things happen. Today, it was just our good fortune."
MSU (2-6-2 overall, 2-5-1 NSIC) struggled to get any offense going following Potter's goal. The Beavers failed to record a shot on goal in the second half, when they played against a 20 mph wind.
"Their attack is pretty much premised on two or three players," Cane said. "When you're trying to counter like they do, it does require wind. I think it was difficult for them mentally, too. You're facing the wind and you're down."
Duluth (8-2, 7-1) struck 22 minutes, 40 seconds into the game when Riley Allen headed the ball inside the near post off a corner kick from Hannah Keil.
The Beavers scored two minutes later on a hustle play from junior forward Zoe Fisher. Freshman striker Chloe Melton pursued the ball into the box, causing Bulldogs goalie Marissa Rosa and a defender to collide. Fisher pounced on the loose ball and chipped a shot over a defender into the middle of the net.
"It was just hard work, both from me and Chloe not giving up on that ball," Fisher said. "I had it come to my feet."
It was the first goal of the season for Fisher, who led the conference in scoring in 2012 but has been slowed by double teams and a knee injury this season.
"It was good to see her break the ice," Spain said. "She's had a rough year. Hopefully she can get a couple tomorrow (against St. Cloud State)."
Spain said his team simply didn't play well enough in the first half with the wind at its back. Then there was the goalkeeping.
"Our goalie has to be better than she was today," Spain said. "I'm going with Jimi (Guibur) tomorrow. We've had too many dropped balls and given up goals."
Guibur, a sophomore from Manteca, Calif., had three saves in the second half after replacing Biasetto.
MSU hosts St. Cloud State at 1 p.m. today.
Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.