MANKATO - The Southwest Minnesota State soccer team picked the right match to defeat Minnesota State for the first time in program history - in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Morgan Weyer-Coates' goal in the 83rd minute gave the fifth-seeded Mustangs a 2-1 victory over the top-seeded Mavericks in a semifinal final contest that was part of the Central Region bracket.
"I think this is the match that has made our season because we really wanted to beat Minnesota State," Weyer-Coates said. "We came out strong and I think everyone did their job. We were just on during this match."
Photo submitted by SMSU/Greg Devereaux Photography
Southwest Minnesota State’s Justine Hauck deflects the ball while crashing into a Minnesota State player during the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Central Region Tournament on Saturday in Mankato.
Southwest Minnesota State head coach T.J. Buchholz was overjoyed with Sunday's result.
"This is pretty awesome," Buchholz said. "We have put together two great games after struggling to score at the end of the regular season. Now, it seems like we're on a roll and, when we have our looks (at the net), we're scoring."
Weyer-Coates said the Mustangs were focused from the kickoff.
"We were all pumped up because we knew this was the team we had to beat," Weyer-Coates said.
She remembered a preseason prediction as SMSU finds itself in the national Sweet 16 for NCAA Division II.
"We were picked to finish tenth (in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) and I think we proved a lot of people wrong, but we also proved ourselves right," Weyer-Coates said. "A lot of people didn't have confidence in us. So, we decided to have confidence in ourselves and that's all that mattered."
The Mustangs' victory snapped Minnesota State's 36-match home winning streak - a streak that tied for the 12th-longest in NCAA Division II history. The Mustangs, who beat their first ranked opponent in program history on Friday with a 3-1 win over No. 14 Central Missouri, now have back-to-back victories over National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 teams.
SMSU, which advances to the Central Region championship game, will play Minnesota-Duluth on Friday at a site yet to be determined. The Mustangs defeated UMD 3-0 earlier this season at The Schwan Regional Event Center.
The Mustangs struck first in the 13th minute, when Vanesa Corona knocked in a shot from point-blank range. Naomi Peterson played Megan Kilroy's corner kick and centered a pass that found Corona right in front of the net. Corona did the rest, beating Molly McGough to put SMSU up 1-0.
The goal was Corona's sixth of the season and second of the tournament. It SMSU's first goal scored against Minnesota State in more than 11 years - Sept. 22, 2002, when the Mustangs lost 6-1 in Marshall.
SMSU turned up its defensive pressure in the second half and managed to hold the Mavericks scoreless until the 70th minute, when Kina Nickel scored her seventh goal of the season to tie match 1-1.
Weyer-Coates, who came off the bench, found an opening from 22 yards out and took a shot that clanked off the left goal post, deflected back and just inside the left goal post. The unassisted goal came in the 83rd minute and proved to be the match-winner after the Mustangs shutdown the Marvericks during the remaining 7:22.
SMSU was outshot 27-7 in the game, including 17-5 in the second half.
Mustangs' goaltender Brienna Dehkes made 13 saves, while MSU's Molly McGough had two.
SMSU is 2-0 in its first two NCAA Tournament matches.