Defending National Champion Central Missouri (17-4-1) ended Augustana’s (12-6-3) season with a 3-1 defeat in the NCAA Regional Quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 9.
After a sixth straight season of double-digit wins and advancing to the NCAA regionals for the fourth time in 5 years, the Vikings women’s soccer team couldn’t find a way to keep its season going.
The game was played in sub-freezing temperature, despite kickoff starting at just above 20 degrees with snow on the radar.
“Cold weather makes the ball harder,” sophomore Shannon McKnight said. “It causes more mistakes by both teams. It’s different when your kicking or heading the ball when your legs and feet are colder. You just have to be mentally tough.”
The Jennies came out with a mental toughness for the entire first half, controlling the ball and outshooting the Vikings 14-3. Central Missouri finally broke through in the 24th minute when All-American forward Jada Scott put a penalty shot in the bottom right corner of the net for Central Missouri. The shot put the Jennies ahead and was Scott’s 18th goal of the year.
Around the 35th minute, the snow was coming down hard, but Scott wasn’t fazed. She tapped in her second goal of the day from six yards out on a pass from Makayla Toth.
“Jada Scott you know, she’s All-American for a reason,” said Vikings head coach Brandon Barkus. “She is really good at running the ball and making things happen for her team.”
The Vikings answered back quickly. In the next minute, NSIC freshman of the year Alexis Legg scored her 11th goal of the season on a tipped ball after a corner kick from Peyton Stenzel and past Jennies goalkeeper Lindsey Johnson.
“[The goal] was huge,” Barkus said. “We cut a little bit of a momentum shift when that happened.”
At the half, Augustana only had one shot on goal.
“Our team gained momentum and energy from that point on, and we started getting more chances,” Legg said. “We connected more passes, and our attack was more dangerous.”
“In the second half I think we made some good adjustments—we kind of got after it,” Barkus said.
In the 75th minute, the Jennies broke the game open when Makayla Toth found the back of Augustana’s net after a pass from Courtney Killian.
“The third goal was a little disheartening,” Mcknight said. “It’s usually pretty hard to come back from a two-goal deficit with fifteen minutes left, especially when you are up against such a good team.”
The Vikings couldn’t find a way back into the game and by the end they had been outshot 23-15, with only six of their shots going on net. Claudia Pueschner ended her stellar season with 11 saves.
The team will be losing one of its best senior classes ever. Augustana has won 58 games, lost 18, and has been to the NCAA tournament three times.
The seniors that will be stepping off the field are midfielder/forward Allie Marshall, forward Julie Plonsky, forward Reiley Klose, midfielder/defender Rebecca Gasper, defender Rebekah Thoresen and defender Lauren Brownrigg.
“That’s a very special group, you know all six of them have really impacted the program a lot,” Barkus said. “They brought something uniquely different each one of them and we are really gonna miss them. They are tremendous women.”
Central Missouri will face off against Bemidji State, the No. 2 seed in the region, on Sunday for a trip to the regional finals.