Chasing the NSIC tourney: MSU soccer tops Sioux Falls 4-0

Alex Eisen/MDN Minot State freshman Sofia Lewis (15) gets a shot off Saturday while being closely guarded by Sioux Falls defender Kori Fink (2) at Herb Parker Stadium.

Four different goal scorers, three of which are in their first season with the program, carried the Minot State women’s soccer team to a 4-0 win over Sioux Falls on Saturday afternoon at Herb Parker Stadium.

The conference victory ties the Beavers (4-4-1, 3-3 NSIC) with St. Cloud State for the eighth and final spot to reach the NSIC Tournament at the end of the season, and dropped Sioux Falls (3-5-1, 2-3-1 NSIC) out of a postseason spot.

A rather slow start to the season by MSU standards, but the Beavers showcased again Saturday that they are a much different team when they get to play with the lead.

“As long as we can score first, I feel like we open teams up,” MSU coach Jason Spain said. “We have been unlucky in 0-0 games and giving up goals at the end of halves. So, it’s nice to get a lead and get more minutes to coach your bench. We have struggled at the end of the halves with our bench on the field.”

After controlling most of the possession early in the first half, the Beavers were rewarded for their efforts with the opening goal 19 minutes into the contest.

Alex Eisen/MDN MSU freshman Jordyn Cook (33) shields off Sioux Falls defender Emma Trittin (12) in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game Saturday in Minot.

Junior Haley Berryman delivered a low-driven cross from near the corner flag that skipped past both MSU forward Jordyn Cook and Sioux Falls goalkeeper Morgan Perkins. Waiting at the back post was freshman Sofia Lewis for her team-leading fifth goal of the season.

“I knew that I had to make a difference,” Sofia said about leading the team in goals. “So, I knew that I had to score some goals, but didn’t necessarily think I’d be (in this position).”

Minot State outshot Sioux Falls 6-4 (2-1 shots on target) in the first half. Shots remained similar in the second half with MSU narrowly getting the edge in the game (13-11), yet the Beavers did put more of their attempts on target (8-2).

Another cross by Berryman to Lewis produced the second goal with 33 minutes left in the second half. Lewis had her initial shot blocked, but her second effort forced a one-handed diving save by Perkins.

The rebound fell to Cook, who was crashing the back post. Getting pulled to the turf by a defender, Cook poked the ball in for her fourth goal of the season. Lewis and Berryman were credited with the assists.

“Sofia (Lewis) took a shot and the keeper blocked it,” Cook said. “It was an inch away, so I gave everything I had and slid to get the ball into the back of the net.”

Sioux Falls best chance to score came with 15:30 remaining. MSU goalkeeper Erin Rafferty saved a bouncing ball off the crossbar and the follow up shot was blocked by the head of senior defender Kelli Creese.

Rafferty earned her fifth shutout of the season by making two saves.

The Beavers doubled their lead in the final minutes of the match. A through ball by freshman defender Emily Woods set up Berryman with a right-footed finish across the goal (84:33), and then junior Sydnee Canales capitalized on her right foot as well, off a pass from Melanie van Walstijn, two minutes later (86:32).

“When it was 1-0 they were still trying to stay compact and steal one on a free kick,” Spain said. “We got the second (goal) and then they opened up.”

The Beavers return to Herb Parker Stadium this afternoon to host winless Southwest Minnesota State (0-8, 0-6 NSIC). The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

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