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WOMEN’S SOCCER: Beavers keep dancing with shootout win in region championship

After a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time, No. 24 Bemidji State defeated Emporia State 3-1 in penalty kicks during the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The ensuing jubilation was well deserved for a team that is going to the national quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

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The Beavers raise the Central Region championship trophy after defeating Emporia State in penalty kicks during the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Never before has a prize like this gotten Bemidji State fingerprints on it.

But after Friday’s unprecedented triumph by the BSU women’s soccer team, the Beavers lifted the Central Region championship trophy high into the snowy night sky of Chet Anderson Stadium.

“It’s never been done here before,” fifth-year captain Megan Dahl said. “That’s the best part: We’ve never had this feeling before, never felt that trophy before. It’s just awesome that we were able to do it.”

After a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time, No. 24 Bemidji State defeated Emporia State 3-1 in penalty kicks during the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The ensuing jubilation was well deserved for a team that is going to the national quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

“We’re in the final eight of the country,” said BSU head coach Jim Stone, flabbergasted by his own statement. “I mean, whew. It’s like a dream coming true right before your eyes.”

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The Beavers pile onto Bemidji State goalkeeper Alyssa Stumbaugh after defeating Emporia State during penalty kicks in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The longest walk in sports was more like a split-second sprint this time around.

When Alyssa Stumbaugh made her third save of the shootout, she and her teammates raced to each other in elation. With a celebratory slide on the slippery turf, the Beavers dogpiled like never before.

“We did a team prayer right before the PKs, and our prayer was for God to tell me where they were going,” said Stumbaugh, who dove the correct way on all four Emporia State shots. “It’s just joy.”

Erin Becker and Sara Wendt opened the shootout with goals for Bemidji State (16-2-6), while Stumbaugh made saves to her right in the opening two rounds.

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Bemidji State senior Alyssa Stumbaugh dives for a save in the second rounds of penalty kicks during the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The Hornets (13-7-4) climbed back within 2-1 after three rounds, but Halle Peterson put BSU on the cusp of victory with a well-placed prod in the fourth round.

And then Stumbaugh iced the win with a historic stop to her left.

“It’s incredible. I could see the joy in our kids’ faces,” Stone said. “That sense of accomplishment, sense of joy and happiness, it was cool to see.”

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Bemidji State senior Halle Peterson kicks the ball to score during the fourth round of penalty kicks in the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The rest of the match was nearly as dramatic as the climax.

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Wendt scored in the 19th minute for the opening statement, shoveling in a cross from Maria Stocke that had ESU goalkeeper Mackenzi Goen out of position.

Allyson Smith started the play by working a ball toward the corner flag and flicking it to Stocke, who ran into the 18-yard box and crossed a ball that Goen couldn’t reach on her dive. Wendt knocked the ball down at the back post, then had a wide-open net to fire it home.

“All the hard work we’ve put in this year, I didn’t want the journey to end with this team,” Wendt said. “They’re a special group, and I’m glad we put it away.”

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Bemidji State fifth-year Sara Wendt (14) fights for the ball during the first half of the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The strike is the 49th of Wendt’s career, which ties her with Rachael Norton for the most goals in program history.

Emporia State attacked the right flank with a stubborn consistency, challenging Annika Fingal and Peterson deep into the final third. But as the clock ticked down and down, Wendt’s score held up as the only breakthrough of the day and was close to standing as the game-winner -- until the 78th minute.

Mackenzie Dimarco equalized with a rocket from outside the box, fending off a challenge and sending her nation-leading 23rd goal of the season just under the crossbar.

The final 32 minutes of play were slippery and fast, and both teams had their chances, but no one delivered a knockout punch until penalty kicks.

“We really thought another goal was coming,” Stone said. “We didn’t think we were going to have to go to penalty kicks, and unfortunately we did, but Alyssa came up huge for us. We had some people step up. Another great moment in our history.”

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Bemidji State senior Emily Baurr (7) moves the ball during the second half of the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The Beavers are now one win away from the Final Four. All that stands in their way is Ferris State, the No. 6 seed from the Midwest Region that defeated two-time defending national champion Grand Valley State in penalty kicks during their regional final.

Bemidji State and Ferris State will play in the national quarterfinals at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20, at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Bemidji State 1, Emporia State 1 (BSU wins shootout)

ESU 0 1 0 0 -- 1

BSU 1 0 0 0 -- 1

First half -- 1, BSU GOAL, Wendt (Stocke), 19’.

Second half -- 2, ESU GOAL, Dimarco (unassisted), 78’.

First overtime -- No scoring.

Second overtime -- No scoring.

Shootout -- BSU wins 3-1.

Saves -- Stumbaugh (BSU) 10; Goen (ESU) 7.

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Bemidji State fifth-year Megan Dahl (9) kicks the ball during the first half of the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State assistant coach Mike Korman congratulates the Beavers after defeating Emporia State in penalty kicks during the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
112322.S.BP.BSUWSOC Lexi Larson.jpg
Bemidji State senior Lexi Larson (31) controls the ball during the first half of the Central Region championship game of the NCAA Tournament against Emporia State on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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