Goal drought

MSU soccer holds out for scoreless tie against No. 17 Fort Hays State

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State senior Gabrielle Kwiatek (13) attempts a shot in front of Fort Hays State defender Paige Utterback (5) and MSU teammate Sydnee Canales (10) on Sunday at Herb Parker Stadium.

After 110 minutes of women’s soccer at Herb Parker Stadium, the scoreboard remained the same as when the game first started Sunday between Minot State and No. 17-ranked Fort Hays State.

Unable to knock the ball into the back of the net, the nonconference contest played out to a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods.

MSU coach Jason Spain wasn’t exactly pleased with the result, and felt his Beavers should have pulled out the victory in their final match of the Microtel Inn & Suites Minot State Classic.

“I’m kind of pissed,” he said. “But, I’m happy with the improvement and strides that we have been taking with a lot of freshman playing. I’m frustrated that we are playing downhill and we need to start getting three points in these matches.”

The first half had the Beavers (1-2-1, 0-1 NSIC) holding most of the possession and outshooting the Fort Hays State Tigers 8-2, but only 2-1 on shots on target. Converting chances plagued the Beavers throughout the whole match.

Alex Eisen/MDN MSU freshman midfielder Sofia Lewis (15) shields off a Fort Hays State defender Sunday in a nonconference game.

“We got to finish better,” Spain said. “I think we have to practice some contested finishing. We have to get a little confidence there. We just got to get one to go in and break the ice.”

After knocking in six goals in the season opener against Black Hills State, MSU has now gone 278 minutes and two seconds without scoring a goal. That’s a scoreless second half against the University of Mary, a 1-0 overtime defeat to Emporia State on Friday and the inconclusive 0-0 tie on Sunday.

That said, Minot had its opportunities. Senior defender Kelli Creese looked dangerous on free kicks, but nobody could get a solid finish on the end of them.

“We had three (chances) in the first half that we beat them to the punch,” Spain said. “One went off the bar and two went over.”

Junior forwards Sydnee Canales and Haley Berryman led MSU in shots at halftime with two each. Berryman finished with a team-high five shots in the contest.

“It’s very frustrating,” Berryman said. “We are connecting better and had opportunities. It’s mostly my fault. I couldn’t get on the end of them.”

Fort Hays State (2-0-2) registered its first shot attempt of the game with 7:42 left in the first half, as they struggled to string passes together and hardly looked like the 17th best team in Division II at times.

The Tigers, however, found their footing more in the second half with the possession evening out.

Yet, Minot State still had the best two chances of the half with Creese directing a header straight at Fort Hays State goalkeeper Megan Kneefel on a corner kick. Then, with 50 seconds remaining, Berryman broke through the Tigers’ backline and had a one-on-one against Kneefel. Berryman dragged the shot wide from a tough angle to send the game into the first overtime.

The Beavers held a 14-5 shot advantage after regulation.

“From what I heard, (Fort Hays State) is a really good team,” Berryman said. “But, we played way better than them. I think we should have won.”

MSU sophomore goalkeeper Erin Rafferty earned her shutout in the dying moments of the first overtime. A slow-roller shot in the box by Fort Hays State midfielder Jasmine Beaulieu had Rafferty diving across the face of the goal to make her second and last save of the contest.

“I kind of blackout when I make saves like that,” Rafferty said. “I didn’t even see the girl, I just saw the ball rolling. I was on the opposite post, so I tried to sprint over there to get it. I didn’t think I was going to make it, so I had to swing my arm and scoop (the ball) out.”

The last-ditch save with seven seconds left on the clock prompted another 10-minute overtime.

Minot native and true freshman Sofia Lewis had the best effort in the final period on a long-range attempt. But, it was palmed away by Kneefel, who made five saves in the game.

“I don’t know, but I feel like this is most talented group we have had,” Spain said. “We just have to learn how to win. We are clearly tougher than we were last week and getting mentally tougher.”

Since joining the NSIC in 2012, MSU has never beaten a Division II Top 25 ranked opponent (0-7-2).

The Beavers resume conference play on Saturday against Wayne State (1-1-2 overall, 0-0-1 NSIC) in Nebraska.

In the morning game Sunday at the Minot State Classic, Augustana beat Emporia State 1-0 in double overtime.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.