NORTHFIELD, Minn. – For the fifth time in the last six years, the Carleton College women’s soccer team played Concordia College at some point in the MIAC Playoffs. This time the Knights hosted the semifinal match but came out on the wrong end of a 1-0 decision after Sara Rounds, the conference’s leading goal scorer, found the back of the net in the 43rd minute.
Both sides created quality goal-scoring opportunities against two of the tougher defenses in the conference. The Knights finished with an 11-8 edge in shots and a 6-2 margin in corner kicks.
Carleton forward Lily VanderStaay (Sr./Bellingham, Wash./Bellingham) brought the crowed to its feet in the seventh minute as she delivered a beautiful through ball to Zoe Suche (Jr./Calgary, Alb./Western Canada) streaking up the middle. The six-yard shot sailed just wide of the near post.
Three minutes later at the opposite end of the pitch, Concordia’s Gina Weiss uncorked a shot that Beth Ashinsky (Jr./Mount Kisco, N.Y./Horace Greeley) rejected. The ball settled at the feet of Rounds, but her point-blank shot was blocked by Megan Morrison (Jr./Acton, Mass./Middlesex) at the far post.
In the 39th minute, Carleton’s Cassie Burke (Sr./Sunfish Lake, Minn./Minnehaha Academy) crossed the ball into the six-yard box, but Linnea Carlson (Sr./Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) could not muster a powerful attack as she battled with the Cobber defense for position.
Four minutes later, the Cobbers caught the break they sought. Rochelle Hickerson brought the ball up along the left wing and served it into the box. The Knights touched the ball first but could not get the clearance. Rounds settled the bouncing ball near the penalty-kick spot and tucked a left-footed shot inside the left post.
Concordia came within inches of extending its lead early in the second half. Gina Weiss used her speed to get around the Carleton back line and hit the right post with a shot in the 52nd minute.
The Knights showed resiliency and kept coming after the Cobbers, but Concordia goalkeeper Ali Nelson kept Carleton at bay, making seven saves.
Ellie Wilson (Fy./Roseville, Minn./Roseville) and VanderStaay had quality attempts turned aside in the 54th and 72nd mintues, respectively.
Carleton, which tallied the equalizer in the 89th minute of last year’s MIAC final against Concordia, nearly found late-match magic once again.
In the 84th minute of today’s contest, Niki Tomita (Sr./Redwood City, Calif./Woodside) unleashed a left-footed strike from the top of the box. Nelson made a diving save going to her left, but the ball trickled free. Before Wilson could finish her run into the box, Nelson rolled rolled over and corralled the loose ball.
Carleton had two more shots in the final minute, but neither was on frame.
With the win Concordia advances to the MIAC Finals on Saturday vs. top-seeded Saint Benedict with the winner securing the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Carleton meanwhile hopes to be considered for one of the 21 at-large bids to the national tournament. The full 64-team field will be announced on Monday, Nov. 7.
If today’s contest proves to be the end of Carleton’s year, the six seniors on the roster have been part of something special. They helped the Knights win back-to-back MIAC championships, capture a pair of MIAC Playoff championships, and secure the program’s first three trips to the NCAA tournament in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Overall, this group owns a 54-21-9 (.696) record.