There will be at least one more chapter in the College of St. Catherine’s storybook women’s soccer season.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats earned their school’s first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) playoff championship in any sport Saturday with a 2-1 win over visiting Gustavus Adolphus University. Sophomore Allie Bird scored one minute, 12 seconds into the second overtime, converting the rebound of junior Kaitlin Machovec’s shot.
St. Kate’s clinched the MIAC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament by advancing past all three teams that beat the Wildcats during the conference season. One day after advancing past No. 4 St. Benedict in a shootout following last Tuesday’s 1-1 tie in St. Joseph, St. Kate’s stunned top-seeded Augsburg 1-0 in Minneapolis. The Wildcats improved to 9-6-4 after going 0-4-1 to start their first season under coach Jesse Campos.
“What a story,” said Campos. “New coach. Smallest roster. Hardest schedule. Not a great beginning to our season. For all that to happen, and for us to be able to write that final chapter on our home field, they wanted it. They wanted to write that final chapter the way they felt it should end.”
A new beginning for St. Kate’s will be announced at noon Monday when the NCAA tournament field is revealed on NCAA.com.
The Wildcats allowed just two goals in more than 300 minutes of tournament action behind a collective defensive effort led by the senior trio of goalkeeper Jessica Perez-Adame and center backs Shannon Hickey and Samantha Boonstra, a converted right back.
“Defensively, we wanted to be more organized and be just a grittier team,” said Campos. “Nobody was going to be comfortable when they entered our half of the field. That had to be everybody’s mindset.”
Bird’s goal-scoring mentality returned in the playoffs as she doubled her previous tally with two game-winners, including a 12th-minute strike that held up against Augsburg.
“Allie Bird kind of struggled to score goals in the beginning of the season,” said Campos. “She just hung in there. She got to practice early and stayed after to put in the extra work. She wanted to be there and be able to put in the goal in the big moment.”
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