WOMEN’S SOCCER: Georgie Harber preserves 0-0 tie as Beavers near No. 2 seed
In a defensive battle like Sunday’s, the kind of prep work in Georgie Harber's routine can make or break a result for the Bemidji State women’s soccer team.
BEMIDJI -- Although her playing time has been spotty, Georgie Harber’s preparation is routine.
It starts with a good night’s sleep and a nourishing breakfast. It includes mental reps of visualizing save after save. And it requires a calm composure once kickoff arrives.
In a defensive battle like Sunday’s, that kind of prep work can make or break a result for the Bemidji State women’s soccer team.
“(Today’s performance) speaks volumes about who she is and how she’s trained and prepared herself, even when the minutes weren’t there the last three or four years,” BSU head coach Jim Stone said. “She’s prepared herself so that, when this moment comes, she’s ready, confident and capable. It’s a pretty neat thing to be a part of and see as a coach.”
Harber, typically the Beavers’ backup goalkeeper, held down Minot State at Chet Anderson Stadium. With starter Alyssa Stumbaugh out on Sunday, Harber was tasked with preserving a clean sheet and helping Bemidji State reach a 0-0 tie.
Harber finished with three saves in her sixth start of the season, none better than a diving stop on a dangerous ball in the 49th minute. A perfect cross found MSU’s Chloe Allan, who headed it to the far post from the edge of the 6-yard box, but Harber tracked it all the way for the denial.
Naturally, she attributed her success to her preparation.
“We practice at a very high level, so we always get header balls in practice or those quick little shots where we need quick reflexes,” Harber said. “Practices from the beginning of the season have led me to this point, to be able to make that save.”
Fueled by Harber and the backline, BSU clinched a top-three seed in the NSIC Tournament and will host a quarterfinal game in the conference tournament.
The tie, though, allowed Minnesota State to jump three points ahead in the league standings with one match remaining. Should Bemidji State catch the Mavericks, Minnesota State still owns the tiebreaker (goal differential, since the two sides tied head-to-head in September) .
In most every scenario, BSU will wind up with the No. 2 seed. But math be darned, Bemidji State is ready for whatever postseason path comes its way.
“Our mindset is that we want to win it. That’s it,” Stone said of the NSIC Tournament. “That’s what we want to do, and that’s the only thing on our minds.”
Several times over, BSU (10-2-5, 9-1-4 NSIC) was a few inches away from a different result on Sunday.
Chances were limited in the first half -- rightfully so in a game featuring the league’s two stingiest defenses -- but things ramped up for Bemidji State in the second half.
Katrina Barthelt pushed a shot past the keeper but just wide of the net in the 71st minute. Sara Wendt took on two defenders during a solo counter attack and rifled a hard shot on target in the 79th minute, but she was denied by a diving save.
And Allyson Smith even nailed the crossbar in the 88th minute, kicking a ball mere inches too high and eliciting a tortured groan from the home fans.
“Early in the game, you look at it as more of a positive,” Stone said of coming ever so close on a scoring chance. “And as the clock winds down, it’s hard to not think a little negatively. … It’s a little bit relative to the clock.”
But that’s why Harber was on the other end. Although Bemidji State never broke the seal, Harber was in position to guarantee at least a tie against Minot State (8-2-7, 8-1-5 NSIC).
“You have to have the mindset of keeping them out,” Harber said. “If you’re not going to get one, a tie is better than losing completely.”
Bemidji State will close the regular season against last-place Minnesota Crookston at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27, in Crookston. And then comes the postseason.
“Going into Crookston, we’ve just got to stay focused,” Harber said. “We’ve got to be ready to score a lot of goals, and we’ve got to be ready to keep goals out. And then we’ve got to be ready to battle in the NSIC Tournament.”
Bemidji State 0, Minot State 0
MSU 0 0 -- 0
BSU 0 0 -- 0
First half -- No scoring.
Second half -- No scoring.
Saves -- Harber (BSU) 3; Kindred (MSU) 4.