No goal to golden goal

MSU soccer upsets No. 13 Minnesota State Mankato 2-1 in double overtime

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State freshman forward Morgan Myers gets swarmed by her teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime Sunday against No. 13-ranked Minnesota State Mankato at Herb Parker Stadium.

A flick of the head and history was made.

Following a successful set piece in the 106th minute, Minot State freshman Morgan Myers sent a swarm of pink jerseys into a frenzy Sunday afternoon at Herb Parker Stadium with a golden goal to knock off No. 13-ranked Minnesota State Mankato 2-1.

“I was setting up for a normal free kick,” Myers said. “We have been practicing this all week. Kelli (Creese) just sent the ball up and I was just making my way back and trying to get my head on the ball. I flicked it back and it went right over the goalie’s head.”

The double overtime header gave the Beavers their first win ever over the Mavericks (1-4-3 all-time) and the program’s first victory over a Division II Top 25 ranked opponent (1-7-2 all-time).

MSU (11-4-1, 10-3 NSIC), sporting its second longest winning streak in school history, is now tied with Augustana for third place in the NSIC standings with 30 points.

Sean Arbaut/MSU athletics In a goal not given to Minot State in the first half, the ball clearly crosses over the goal line before Minnesota State Mankato’s Abby Nordeen (10) can clear it out.

“It’s a big win and a big win for our young kids,” MSU coach Jason Spain said. “We know we are the top team in the conference. We had to learn it. It took us a little while, but we have won eight in a row. We are rolling now.”

The match on Sunday against former NSIC-leading Minnesota State Mankato (13-2-1, 11-1-1 NSIC) should have never reached overtime. Already leading 1-0, the Beavers were denied a two-goal advantage with 14 minutes left in the first half.

A free kick won by Minot native Sofia Lewis started a chain reaction that led to MSU’s phantom goal. The ensuing free kick by senior Creese was saved off the fingertips of Mavericks goalkeeper Taylor Livermore and put out for a corner kick.

Crashing the far post on the corner, Creese lunged her body into the ball during a scrum in front of the net. The ball found its way across the goal line, but the head official and line judge didn’t see it.

The Minot State players and supporters threw their arms into the air to celebrate, only to have their arms still pointed to the sky in disbelief as the game continued without a stoppage.

Alex Eisen/MDN Minnesota State Mankato’s Lexi Pszanka (25) hugs her teammate while Minot State golden goal scorer Morgan Myers (23) is lifted onto her teammates shoulders Sunday at Herb Parker Stadium.

“I had a bad angle, so I couldn’t tell,” Spain said. “It looked like it went in. My first thought was it hit the net because all our girls were in the net, but I couldn’t tell. I just saw the photo from Sean Arbaut and it was obviously a foot and half, maybe two feet in. But, it was a cool win and it’s good for a young team to fight though that adversity anyways.”

The Beavers took a 1-0 lead into halftime after scoring in the 14th minute. Freshman Lewis played a perfect through ball to spring free junior Haley Berryman for the opening tally. Berryman finished with her left foot into the roof of the net for her seventh goal of the season.

“It was an awesome game,” Berryman said. “This (win) could probably put us in the NCAA Tournament, that’s what I’m being told. I’m not completely sure. But, it helped us secure a home playoff game, hopefully.”

Tension and emotions heated up in the second half, especially after the Mavericks tied the score at 1-1.

A short corner by Morgan Cottew went to an unmarked Jenny Hoerter. Despite having a challenging angle to shoot from, Hoerter got the ball up and over MSU sophomore goalkeeper Erin Rafferty from 20 yards out for her seventh goal of the season with just over 37 minutes left to play in the second half.

Rafferty has played in every minute of all 16 games for MSU this season, giving up only nine goals. Her 11 saves on Sunday was a career-high.

The Mavericks outshot Minot 20-11 in the contest (12-7 shots on target). Forward Zach Julia had a match-high five shots for Minnesota State Mankato. Berryman had a team-high four shots for MSU.

Cottew picked up a yellow card with 23 minutes left in regulation. Mavericks’ Abby Nordeen and Lauren Kizlik were also shown yellow in a physical affair.

“They were very physical, but it was fun though,” Berryman said. “I like playing against teams that put up a fight against us. It’s stressful, but it’s good to know that we can beat a team like that.”

After two timely saves from Rafferty in the first overtime, the Beavers turned the Mavericks 16th team foul of the game into the game winner. Creese lofted in a free kick from 50 yards out and found the head of Myers. Facing away from the goal, Myers was still able to direct the ball into the back of the net.

“I love that girl,” Spain said about Myers. “She played for me when she was 6-7 (years old). She is from my hometown Yuba City (California) and played on my daughter’s team… Long before that, her aunt (Erin Cunningham) played on my first couple of championship (teams) at Yuba College, so that’s why (Myers) was on my daughter’s team. Her aunt was actually in the stands today too.”

If the regular season would have ended Sunday, then the Beavers would have taken the No. 4 seed — losing the head-to-head tiebreaker to Augustana — and hosted No. 5 seed Winona State in the first round of the NSIC Tournament.

That said, the Beavers still have two more conference games against teams currently not in the playoff picture to improve their seeding. Minot State concludes the regular season next week with a road game at Northern State on Friday and a home game against MSU Moorhead on Sunday.

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