A sour ending won’t bother the Augustana soccer’s otherwise great season.
Though the Vikings fell 1-0 to Minnesota State-Mankato in the NSIC Championship, failing to defend its 2015 title and narrowly missing an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, they appreciate their successes as they looks toward next season.
One of those was their semifinal upset of Minot State.
“We came out strong against Minot, and our goal was to ultimately beat them,” said freshman forward Grace Behm, who scored a goal in the Vikings’ dramatic 2-1 overtime win over the Beavers.
“Of course the team is sad that the season is over, but beating Minot was huge for us because we were able to redeem ourselves against them,” junior goalkeeper Taylor Machacek said. “When we played them the first time, we weren’t playing to our full potential, so beating them was a great feeling.”
Minot beat Augustana 3-0 Sept. 17.
Augustana took the lead against Minot shortly before the end of the first half on Behm’s third goal of the season. Minot tied the game in the second half but fell in double overtime on a header by sophomore midfielder Rebecca Gasper from a corner kick by senior midfielder Emily Jacobson.
It was only the Beavers’ second loss of the season, ending a 16-match unbeaten streak.
Ultimately not securing an at-large bid to the Central Region tournament, Augustana’s season ended in the NSIC title match two days later.
Mankato scored in the 70th minute and held on for the shutout.
While Minot and Mankato both outshot Augustana (Mankato doing so 27-6), head coach Brandon Barkus said he was not troubled by his team’s play.
“I’m not too concerned about the fact that they outshot us, it’s giving something up to gain something else,” Barkus said.
Augustana survived the barrage of shots with sound defense and elite goaltending, with both the Beavers and Mavericks only tallying one goal each.
Barkus called Machacek “the best [goalkeeper] in the conference,” and was confident that the team’s defense—which returns all but two players—will continue to be one of the strongest in the NSIC.
“I think defensively, and on goal, we will be the best [in the NSIC],” Barkus said.
Despite not returning to the NCAA Tournament, the Vikings are satisfied with their season and hopeful for the future.
“We lost, but we still did things right,” Barkus said. “We had seven all-conference players. I feel good. I think Augie soccer’s in a really good spot right now. … From the amount of returners we have, we should be a top-four team and compete for the championship [next year]. No question.”