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Cougar women pull off upset, secure spot in tournament

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's soccer team upsets Northland College, but loses to St. Scholastica on the road.

The split moves the Cougars to 9-9 on the year and 7-5 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. They are now 3-6 at home, but 6-3 on the road.

The Cougars have secured a spot in the UMAC tournament, but games to be played this weekend will determine whether they face Northland or St. Scholastica again. In either case, they will be on the road for that match-up.

The Cougars host Presentation College for Senior Day, the final home game of the 2009 season, this Saturday in Morris.

UM-Morris 1

Northland 0

In Ashland, Wis. the Cougars overcame tough conditions to pull off a huge upset, defeating the Lumberjills of Northland College 1-0 Friday afternoon. Northland had won 12 games in a row.

The Cougars withstood an extremely physical game on a soggy pitch. The Lumberjills received three yellow cards and one red card ejection during the game.

Also complicating matters for UMM was the absence of their two senior captains: Maddy Gerber (taking the GRE) and Nina Jarnot (family wedding).

The wet field caused head coach Dan Magner to reassess his strategy against Northland.

"We played fairly direct soccer today. We kept pushing the ball forward and I think that helped in these conditions. Rather than passing a lot at midfield, we kept putting the ball up to keep Northland from getting momentum," he said.

The strategy paid dividends midway through the first half when first-year midfielder Katie Kestner played the ball ahead to junior midfielder Amber O'Connor, who was streaking up the right side. O'Connor crossed the ball to first-year forward Taylor Meehan. Meehan knocked the ball down and put it away for her eighth goal of the season.

From that point, the Cougars held on, keeping Northland's star senior, Sarah Strobino, in check. Strobino, who was the UMAC player of the year last season, managed only a couple shots on the day.

Northland turned up the pressure in the second half, and nearly scored with three minutes to go when a shot caromed off the post and across the goal, only to be cleared moments later.

Magner was thrilled with the victory.

"All the credit to our players. They absolutely gave a tremendous effort to win today."

St. Scholastica 4

UM-Morris 0

Fatigue and horrible weather slowed down the surging Cougars in Duluth Saturday where they lost 4-0 to St. Scholastica.

One day after pulling off a big upset at Northland in similarly wet and cold playing conditions, head coach Dan Magner said his team definitely struggled.

"We had heavy legs and I thought, especially in the second half, we looked a lot slower than we are."

It was senior day at St. Scholastica and two seniors notched first-half goals for the Saints.

Feeling the game was still within reach, the Cougars, who were playing without O'Connor and Jarnot, stepped up the pressure in the second half, but to no avail.

q"Our possession time grew, but we just couldn't manufacture shots," Manger said.

The Saints added two more goals to close out the score.