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Cougar women get ready for UMAC play

The University of Minnesota, Morris falls to 1-3 on the season. The Cougars picked up a big win over Hamline, but two non-conference losses followed.

The Cougars play Hamline University this Saturday in St. Paul for their final non-conference game of the year before opening UMAC play Tuesday against Presentation College.

UMM 5, Buena Vista 0

Coming off a disappointing season-opening loss, the Cougar women roared back into form with a decisive 5-0 shutout of their hosts, Buena Vista University, in Storm Lake, Iowa.

Five different players scored for UMM, including an unassisted goal by freshman reserve Kacie Ramirez, who punched home a winner on her very first touch of the ball on the college level.

Junior goalkeeper Emily Jacob was credited with the shutout, turning away all six shots on goal.

For head coach Dan Magner, the story of the game was weathering the first 15 minutes.

"This was Buena Vista's home opener and you could tell by their energy in the first half. Right away, they got off a few shots but EJ [Emily Jacob] made some great saves. That helped us settle down and wait for Buena Vista's energy to slow down," he said.

And when it did, the Cougars capitalized. Freshman Taylor Oistad, making her first college start, scored at the end of a four-pass combination, firing a low shot into the right corner of the net.

"Taylor showed great poise on her goal," Magner said. "She had a very open shot but she didn't panic. She just took her time and got off a solid shot."

Leading 1-0 at halftime, the Cougars extended their lead just two minutes into the second half when Katie Kestner, on a pass from senior captain Maddy Gerber, ripped a shot from 20 yards out. Three minutes later, Gerber scored on a penalty, giving UMM a 3-0 lead, and rising confidence. At the 57-minute mark, Taylor Meehan scored unassisted.

Ramirez added her tally just before the final whistle.

"Spirits were through the roof," Magner said after the game. "We were really down after Gustavus and when you can rebound with a big win and get everybody in the game, that really helps morale."

The lopsided score, Magner said, did not represent the game.

"Buena Vista played very well and they fought the whole game. We just got on a roll and I hope we can carry," he said.

Mt. Mercy 4, UMM 1

After a big win against host Buena Vista the night before, the Cougar women found themselves a little overmatched against a couple of talented strikers from Mt. Mercy College. Behind three goals from striker Mackenzie Skay and another from Kandice Kiernan, the Mustangs won 4-1.

The Cougars managed more shots on goal for the contest, but trouble finishing those shots, thus opening the door for Mt. Mercy.

"It didn't feel like a 4-1 defeat because we had so many opportunities to score," said Magner after the game. "We won't see too many strikers that talented the rest of the season."

Gerber notched the Cougars' only goal on an unassisted try at the 50-minute mark.

St. Ben's 1, UMM 0

The Cougars hosted MIAC foe St. Benedict's, Tuesday and lost on a goal scored just 2:16 away from a scoreless tie that, based on the pace of play, would have felt every bit a victory.

"We played way better than we did [against St. Ben's] last year. I will take our performance tonight," said junior midfielder Amber O'Connor who led UMM with five shots on the night, including a laser at 30:02 of the second half that went just left of goal.

Sophomore defender Crystal Zastrow agreed.

"This was our best game of the season so far."

Zastrow and her back line mates fought valiantly against a talented St. Ben's attack that maintained pressure on the goal box all night.

"Keeping your concentration, knowing where your marks are... communication is a big thing in back," she said.

St. Ben's fired 35 shots on the night, 17 of which were snuffed out by Jacob. In the first overtime, at the 7:30 mark, Jacob recorded a save on a ball that slid beneath her body as she dove to stop it. She did manage to slow it down, but it continued rolling toward the goal line. Alertly, Jacob crawled after the ball, stopping it just short. To some spectators it appeared to be a goal, but officials ruled the entire ball hadn't passed the line.

UMM's best scoring opportunity arrived in the first overtime when forward Nina Jarnot lifted a looping ball that at first appeared to be a crossing pass, but narrowly missed sneaking into the upper right corner of the goal.

The back and forth of the second overtime felt as if they game might end in a scoreless tie. But St. Ben's Kelly Suter corralled a loose ball, split a pair of defenders and slipped a shot underneath a charging Jacob for the win.