WOMEN’S SOCCER: Bemidji State crowned queen of the NSIC with historic tournament title
For the first time ever, the Beavers are seated on the conference throne as NSIC Tournament champions. BSU’s efforts have never been so fruitfully rewarded, evidenced by the team’s inaugural raising of the conference tournament trophy.
MANKATO -- The reign of the Bemidji State women’s soccer team has begun.
For the first time ever, the Beavers are seated on the conference throne as NSIC Tournament champions, a crowning achievement for a program that has otherwise authored history every which way in the past six seasons.
“Just pure joy,” BSU head coach Jim Stone said. “Doing something that our program has never been able to do before, and knowing how hard it is to make that happen, it was incredible.”
No. 24 Bemidji State defeated Minot State 2-0 in the title game on Sunday in Mankato, scoring twice in overtime against the league’s top defense.
BSU’s efforts have never been so fruitfully rewarded, evidenced by the team’s inaugural raising of the conference tournament trophy.
“It means everything,” tournament MVP Sara Wendt said. “We were here last year, and it was a bittersweet ending. … Winning it this year just means the world to us, and I’m excited for what’s next.”
After Wendt was fouled inside the 18-yard box in the 97th minute, Erin Becker scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick. She snuck a ball low and left for undoubtedly one of the biggest goals in Bemidji State history.
“Minot has an awesome defense, and they held us out for 97 minutes,” Becker said. “(The penalty kick) was a lot of pressure, I’m not going to lie. I was shaking. But I told myself that I’ve done this a thousand times before, I know what I’m doing. I can do this. I just took a deep breath and went for it.”
Wendt added the cherry on top when she scored in the 102nd minute, rushing on goal after an MSU misclearance and tucking a ball inside the right post.
Becker’s goal, which proved to be the decisive moment, was the first goal that Minot State (9-3-9) had allowed in its last 1,100 minutes of play.
It was no surprise that the match was still 0-0 at the end of regulation, as BSU (14-2-5) now has a 637-minute shutout streak of its own, in part to four saves from goalkeeper Alyssa Stumbaugh on Sunday.
Because of that defensive identity on which both teams hung their hat, a win of this caliber required a guarded game plan. Bemidji State had the best such weapon in Megan Dahl, the league’s defensive player of the year who shut down MSU counter attacks time and time again.
“We just started saying the last few games, ‘If they can’t shoot, they can’t score. And if they can’t score, they can’t win,’” Dahl said. “We knew we were more than capable of winning this tournament.”
Not only is Sunday’s win a new feather for the cap, BSU has also earned redemption from last year’s heartbreaking loss to Minnesota State on the same stage. But that’s a distant memory now, one greatly overshadowed by one of the finest accomplishments in 27 seasons of Beaver soccer.
“We’ve been dreaming of this as a team for a long time,” Becker said. “It was awesome to finally do it. Twenty-seven years later, we finally did it.”
Halle Peterson, Allyson Smith, Becker, Dahl, Stumbaugh and Wendt were all named to the all-conference team for Bemidji State, as well.
BSU will now await the results of the NCAA Tournament selection show. The Beavers are most likely to receive the No. 2 seed in the Central Region, which would allow them to host the first and second rounds as a top-two seed.
The selection show is scheduled to begin online at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7, at www.ncaa.com. But until it learns its next opponent, Bemidji State is just going to enjoy its hard-fought history.
“They kept believing,” Stone said. “That’s what we talked about: ‘Keep believing, keep believing, keep believing. (Goals) are going to come.’ That belief was there from the opening whistle to the final whistle.”
Bemidji State 2, Minot State 0 (2OT)
MSU 0 0 0 0 -- 0
BSU 0 0 1 1 -- 2
First half -- No scoring.
Second half -- No scoring.
First overtime -- BSU GOAL, Becker (penalty kick), 97’.
Second overtime -- BSU GOAL, Wendt (Majewski), 102’.
Saves -- Stumbaugh (BSU) 4; Kindred (MSU) 5.